SURREY - The Laura Szendrei murder case has been adjourned to next Friday (Sept. 27), when a date will be fixed for Justice Robin Baird to deliver his decision whether the North Delta teen's killer will be sentenced as a youth or as an adult.
This past week a convicted murderer called on as a defence witness testified that Szendrei's killer will have a particularly hard time if he's sent to Kent federal penitentiary in Agassiz.
"You cannot be vulnerable in Kent and expect to survive," said John Glendon Flett, who shot an armoured car guard in Scarborough in 1978. "He will be locked up in a cell 24 hours a day."
Flett now works with a group called LINC (Long-term Inmates Now in the Community), which helps reintegrate former convicts back into society.
Justice Robin Baird must decide if the North Delta teenager's killer, whose identity is shielded by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, will be sentenced as a youth or as an adult.
He was just shy of his 18th birthday when he murdered 15-year-old Szendrei in September 2010, striking her over the head at least three times with a metal pipe as she struggled to escape from him along a path in North Delta's Mackie Park.
If he's sentenced as an adult the young man, now 21, will be sentenced to life in prison without eligibility to apply for parole for seven years. If sentenced as a youth, he faces a seven-year sentence, with a maximum four of those years to be served in prison and the remainder in the community, under supervision.
Flett testified Wednesday, in Surrey provincial court. The court also heard from Harry Draaisma, deputy warden of operations for the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, which has roughly 600 inmates and a staff of 176.
Draaisma told Justice Robin Baird that he's not aware of anyone having served a life sentence in a provincial prison. He said the provincial system is not set up for that. "I haven't seen a federal inmate do their time in a provincial correctional centre," he told the court.
Draaisma added, however, that he is not aware of anything preventing the young man from serving a portion of his sentence in the provincial system.
Karen Sloat, of the Correctional Service of Canada, also testified. Defence lawyer Donna Turko asked Sloat about the possibility of getting an override, from a maximum security to minimum-security designation in the federal penal system. "I think the leap there would be too significant to logically argue," Sloat replied.
The lawyers made their final submissions Thursday.
A youth sentence would "not hold him sufficiently accountable," she argued.
Stephen noted the young man is close to 21 now, was nearly 18 when he killed Szendrei, that his crime was sexually motivated and he is considered a moderate to high risk to reoffend.
She also asked Justice Robin Baird to give "little or no weight" to the opinion of a psychologist who testified for the defence.
She argued that his assessment contained flawed reasoning and that he "acted as an advocate" for the killer to be sentenced as a youth.
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