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Overnight outings OK'd

More freedom for notorious killer

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A Manitoba killer has lost his bid for day parole -- but has been awarded increased freedom in the community as he attempts to secure a future release from prison.

Earl Giesbrecht appeared before the National Parole Board Wednesday for the latest hearing surrounding one of Manitoba's most notorious cases.

Giesbrecht, 41, was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder for a savage attack in Altona in 1990. Curtis Klassen, 15, died after being tied up and having his throat slashed. Tyler Pelke, then 14, miraculously survived.

On Wednesday, Giesbrecht was denied day parole, but his unescorted leaves were extended to include overnights in the community.

Although he was just 17, Giesbrecht was given an adult sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Months later, the law was changed so killers under 18 would be eligible for parole in 10 years.

Giesbrecht was first granted temporary absences from Rockwood Institution, north of Winnipeg, in 2010. Even though his parole eligibility isn't until 2015, the parole board allows offenders to seek other forms of earlier release if they can prove they aren't a risk to the public.

Last year, Giesbrecht was awarded unescorted temporary absences from prison. However, his bid for day parole -- which would allow him much greater freedom including residing at a halfway house -- was denied.

Pelke, 38, attended the 2010 hearing to voice his objections, but stayed away from hearings in 2013 and on Wednesday. He told the Free Press he has no desire for another face-to-face meeting with the man who left him emotionally and physically scarred. Instead, he presented written statements to the parole board.

Pelke lives in Calgary and works as a firefighter. He also does many public speaking events, sharing his incredible story of survival.

Pelke said his throat was slit "within a dime of my jugular," his heart stopped briefly, he suffered severe burns to 25 per cent of his body and needed more than 200 stitches.

Giesbrecht's parole officer and other members of his treatment team have described him as a model inmate, having participated in restorative-justice meetings and completed extensive programming, including sexual-offender treatment. He has upgraded his education, earning degrees in business administration and human resources.

Giesbrecht told the parole board in 2010 his "anger was building up" and he'd been struggling with his sexuality for years, including being tormented for being gay. He said the final straw came when Pelke and Klassen made a disparaging comment to him at a school dance.

Later that night, after having "revenge fantasies," he sneaked over to Pelke's house with a .357 Magnum handgun and pointed it at the two teens. He bound their arms, taped their eyes shut and put them in different rooms. Giesbrecht tried to strangle Klassen, but the cord broke. He got a knife and slashed his throat, letting him bleed to death. Giesbrecht repeatedly sexually assaulted Pelke before slashing his throat.

He soaked a blanket with gasoline, placed it on Pelke and set it on fire. He set several other fires in the house before fleeing. He went home, showered and disposed of his bloody clothes.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 20, 2014 A3

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