Sentence ends for Alta. woman who murdered family when she was 12
Pallbearers carry the casket of a Medicine Hat, Alta. man outside a church in Sudbury, Ont., Tuesday, May 2, 2006 following the funeral of the man, his wife and their eight-year-old son. (Gino Donato / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, May 6, 2016 8:09AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 6, 2016 3:50PM EDT
MEDICINE HAT, Alta. -- A young woman convicted when she was a teen in the horrific murder of her mother, father and eight-year-old brother has finished her sentence and made enough progress that her family "would be proud."
The woman, who is now 22 but can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, had a final review of her 10-year youth sentence Friday.
"You have a desire to atone for what you did," Justice Scott Brooker noted in his final sentence review for the woman, known only as J.R.
"What you can do is honour their memory ... You have been doing exactly that and I think your parents and brother would be proud of you."
The woman, who was 12 at the time, was convicted of murder along with her 23-year-old boyfriend, Jeremy Steinke, after her family was stabbed to death in their Medicine Hat home in southern Alberta in April 2006.
She's believed to be the youngest person convicted of a multiple murder in Canada.
The woman, flanked by two support workers, spoke briefly via closed-circuit TV, thanked the judge and those who have supported her, but made no mention of her past crime.
Her 10-year sentence -- the maximum for a youth -- included four years in a psychiatric institution and 4 1/2 years under conditional supervision in the community. Steinke is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
"I think society is likely going to have a mixed memory of the case," said defence lawyer Katherin Beyak.
"I would like to think that society of course would remember that it is a tragedy that took place, but ultimately as well that the Criminal justice system in Canada -- and in particular as it relates to youth --is very unique in that it does have the ability to rehabilitate young people who made mistakes early on in life."
Crown prosecutor Ramona Robins said she couldn't comment on the rehabilitation, but she believes not everyone is likely to be satisfied with the punishment.
"There's no number, there's no sentence that's going to bring them back," she said. "No sentence is satisfactory in a murder case in my opinion."
The Crown argued the girl and Steinke concocted a plan to kill her parents, because they disapproved of the 10-year age gap between the couple.
It was suggested the crime was loosely based on Steinke's favourite movie "Natural Born Killers," Oliver Stone's twisted love story about a pair of young serial killers who get their start by killing the girl's parents.
Steinke said he attacked the mother, who was wearing only a nightgown, after she turned on a light switch and found him huddled in the darkened basement.
She screamed. Her husband came running with a small screwdriver and rushed Steinke. The father died in a fighter's stance, his arms still raised above him, of 24 stab wounds.
Steinke steadfastly maintained the boy's death came at the hands of the girl.
At trial, police officers and other witnesses became emotional as they recalled finding the small boy on his bed with a deep slash to his throat, his eyes and mouth wide open. Stuffed animals and a toy light sabre spattered with the boy's blood were next to his body.
Steinke and the girl were arrested in Leader, Sask., about a 90-minute drive away, the day after the bodies were found.
If the woman keeps the peace over the next five years, her criminal record will be sealed.
Medicine Hat police Insp. Brent Secondiak was involved in the case from the beginning and came to court Friday.
"It brought back a lot of the images that we saw on that day about 10 years ago," he said.
"It's tough for everyone involved. It's probably a final chapter for me and everyone at the police service ... can move on."