Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Killer 'should stay in prison'

But that's unlikely, laments survivor of horrific night

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Tyler Pelke made his views known at Giesbrecht's 2010 parole hearing. He says he sees no point in attending the second one next week.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Tyler Pelke made his views known at Giesbrecht's 2010 parole hearing. He says he sees no point in attending the second one next week. Photo Store

Tyler Pelke has no desire for another face-to-face meeting with the man who slashed his throat, sexually assaulted him and set him on fire.

So the former Manitoba firefighter will be noticeably absent next week when his attacker appears before the National Parole Board seeking increased freedom.

Pelke, 37, told the Free Press he's not planning to travel to Winnipeg from his current residence in Alberta for the hearing.

"My presence and opinion seems to hold no value to the parole board," Pelke said Monday.

Earl Giesbrecht was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder after committing one of Manitoba's most notorious crimes in 1990 in Altona. Curtis Klassen, 15, died after being tied up and having his throat slashed. Pelke, then 14, miraculously survived.

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, 40, was granted temporary absences from Rockwood Institution just north of Winnipeg during a 2010 hearing. Pelke attended it and voiced his objections.

Giesbrecht now seeks even more relaxed conditions, such as unescorted leaves, as part of his plan for full freedom as early as 2015.

"My thoughts haven't changed. He should stay in prison," said Pelke. "Unfortunately, the social and political sentiment doesn't support that."

Pelke told the parole board three years ago 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 for his wounds.

"Time hasn't healed all scars," Pelke said at the time. He stressed he isn't afraid of Giesbrecht, whom he visited in prison in 2005 to offer forgiveness as part of his healing process.

"I've been dead once and I'm not going to live my life slowly dying because I fear Earl coming after me.

"But forgiveness is not absolution. Curtis does not come back to life because Earl has been forgiven, any more than the scars on my throat and chest disappear. The crimes were severe enough to warrant a life sentence. A life sentence was given and, as such, should be served."

Giesbrecht's parole officer and other members of his treatment team have described him as a model inmate who has 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 teens. He taped their arms together and 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.

"I wanted him to feel as humiliated and degraded as I had," Giesbrecht told the parole board.

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.

The Free Press usually withholds the names of sex-assault victims, but Pelke, who speaks publicly about being a survivor, chooses not to be anonymous.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 11, 2013 A3

History

Updated on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 7:04 AM CDT: replaces photo

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