Saturday, October 6, 2012
Laura Szendrei’s murderer cops a plea
The 19 year old from Delta who was charged with the murder of Laura Szendrei has copped a plea. He was initially charged with first degree murder but has now pleaded guilty to second degree murder. No doubt that will be met with mixed feelings from the parents and the community.
First-degree murder is when the killing is “planned and deliberate”. It was premeditated. If it was a murder that involved a sexual assault, that is automatically defined as first degree murder. Those convicted of first-degree murder receive an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Second degree murder is an intentional murder that was not planned but took place in the heat of the moment. Like with first-degree, those convicted of second-degree murder receive an automatic life sentence. However, the judge can set their parole eligibility at anywhere between 10 and 25 years. A life sentence with parole after 10 years is not a life sentence. I’m not sure how mandatory statutory release applies to murder convictions.
Keep in mind that is the penalties in adult court. The 19 year old that has pleaded guilty to murdering Laura Szendrei was 17 when he committed the murder. That means he falls under the Young Offenders act, cannot be named and receives a lesser penalty. However, thanks to the advocacy of Chuck and Donna Cadman who lost their son Jesse to an act of senseless violence, young offenders can be charged in adult court. Can be. It has yet to be determined if this case will be. Obviously it should and the crown will no doubt make that application.
Anyways, ten years for murdering someone’s daughter is not closure. It comes with the knowledge that after ten years in prison, the murderer will walk away free and their daughter will still be dead. When you commit murder, you take away something that can never be returned.
Ten years for murder is not closure for the community either. Especially when this case is filled with over reaching publication bans. The purpose of a publication ban is to give the person charged with a crime the right to a fair trial. The purpose of a publication ban is not to hide the truth from the public indefinitely. This is what one blog reader referred to as the difference between freedom and license.
The Charter of Rights and the Freedom of Information act states the public has a right to know what evidence was presented at trial, after the trial is over. The only exception would be to protect the identity of the victim in a case such as sexual assault. Since we already know the name of the victim in this case that does not apply. If there was a sexual assault, then the case would automatically be first degree murder. No plea bargain to reduce that.
The problem we have with this case is that we have no motive and the over reaching publication bans on this case are a threat to public safety.