Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Young killer a 'lost soul or devil?'

Slain woman's family haunted by tragedy

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BRANDON -- He was just 14 when he shot and killed his adoptive mother and five-year-old sister. This weekend, he will have served his time and he'll be eligible for release.

Once assessed as a high risk to reoffend and a threat to any woman with whom he has a relationship, the thought of his release brings fear to the victims' family.

"We're worried that (he) will reoffend to one of us, the females... our daughters, our nieces, our female cousins. Any females that (he) has had any contact with in the past," a sister of the slain woman told the Brandon Sun.

Court records show he shot and killed his 43-year-old mother and young sister, who was also adopted, in the family's St. Lazare home in August 2007.

Even though the killer is 21, he can't be identified because he was sentenced as a youth. His victims also can't be named.

He has been treated, and he will continue to be treated'

-- defence lawyer Bob Harrison of his client

Defence lawyer Bob Harrison believes his client is ready to re-enter society. He has received treatment and counselling, and conditions are in place to protect the community.

"He has been treated, and he will continue to be treated," Harrison said, adding his client will be closely monitored.

After the teen spent almost three years in remand custody, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two counts of second-degree murder. At his sentencing hearing in June 2010, he testified he'd shot the woman after years of physical abuse at her hands.

However, some of the woman's family testified they hadn't seen any abuse.

The teen broke down while testifying and couldn't explain why he shot his sister, saying he didn't mean to kill her.

A psychologist indicated in a report the girl was likely shot out of rage.

As of Sunday, the offender will have served his four years in custody -- some at the Agassiz Youth Centre in Portage la Prairie and the remainder at Headingley Correctional Centre.

In Brandon Court of Queen's Bench Thursday, Justice Robert Cummings set out conditions for the three-year portion of the offender's community supervision.

The convicted killer would be released this weekend -- except he's also in custody on allegations he assaulted a fellow inmate in Headingley in January, and he hasn't applied for bail.

That means he might be behind bars at least until his September trial date, and potentially longer, if he's convicted of the assault and receives a jail sentence.

When he's eventually released, the plan is for him to live at a highly supervised forensic psychological-services home in Winnipeg, staffed 24 hours a day. Included are orders that the offender have no contact with his mother's family, and that he not attend St. Lazare or Brandon where many of the family's relatives live.

Family members say they struggle with anger, fear, sadness and unanswered questions.

Cummings' order offers family members a chance to meet him in mediation. The sister of the slain woman said it's an option she's always wanted to pursue. She says the family has never heard a satisfactory answer for why the young girl was slain.

"I wanted to sit down with (him) to go over what happened that day, to try to bring closure for myself," she said.

"I also wanted to see whether I was looking in a cold-blooded murderer's eyes, or somebody who's got remorse... a lost soul or a devil."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 26, 2014 A13

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