'You will forever live in this hell': Victims' loved ones address Derek Saretzky
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, June 29, 2017 4:21AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 29, 2017 4:56PM EDT
Warning: The following story contains details that some readers may find disturbing.
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- The grandmother of a two-year-old girl killed by triple murderer Derek Saretzky says she can hear screams when she imagines what the child's final moments must have been like.
Terry-Lynn Dunbar delivered an emotional statement at Saretzky's sentencing hearing describing the loss of her granddaughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.
"I can hear her screaming in my mind begging for her mom and her dad ... The horror she must have endured haunts my every moment," she told court in Lethbridge, Alta., Thursday.
"Don't allow this man the opportunity to do this to another family again."
Dunbar says the family has been through hell and she will never get to hear Hailey say "I love you."
It took a jury just three hours Wednesday to convict Saretzky of three counts of first-degree murder in the 2015 deaths of the little girl, her father Terry Blanchette and Hanne Meketech. The 24-year-old was also convicted of causing indignity to a human body.
A conviction of first-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. The court can decide to make the periods of parole ineligibility consecutive, which in this case would be 75 years.
Hailey's mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, says Saretzky stole her greatest joy.
"My life as I knew it has ended," Dunbar said in a statement read by the Crown. "The anxiety and depression has become a daily struggle ... she was my world, my reason for living."
Amanda Blanchette, Hailey's aunt and sister of Terry Blanchette, told court their lives became a horror story the day the father and daughter were killed.
"He stole not just one but two pieces of our souls," she said in a statement read by the Crown.
A friend of Meketech said she struggles with anger and hate.
"You are an animal, an indescribable beast," Carrie Morency told Saretzky as people in the courtroom wept.
"Mr. Saretzky, you will forever live in this hell because you created it and nothing will change it."
Crown prosecutor Michael Fox urged the court to impose the maximum punishment, calling the victims "mere pawns of Mr. Saretzky's thrill-seeking and unspeakable violence.
"You have a cold, calculated plan put in place targeting three innocent victims that were brutally killed," Fox said. "Its callousness defies comparison to any other case that I've been able to find."
He said there are few mitigating factors other than Saretzky's youth and the fact he had no previous criminal record.
"For many parts of this trial, Mr. Saretzky has had a smile on his face," Fox said. "His conduct betrays any suggestion that he harbours any true remorse."
Saretzky's lawyer said his client did not want to address the court. Patrick Edgerton told the court he had a few issues with the Crown's submission and asked to provide a written submission by July 14.
Justice William Tilleman agreed and said he would sentence Saretzky Aug. 9.
CAUTION: GRAPHIC CONTENT THAT FOLLOWS MAY DISTURB SOME READERS
Saretzky's trial heard videotaped confessions from Saretzky who told police he killed Meketech -- a friend of his grandparents -- on the spur of the moment and because he didn't think anybody cared about her.
Five days later, Blanchette was beaten before his throat was cut in the home where he lived with Hailey. The little girl was plucked from her crib and spirited away from the bloody crime scene.
Blanchette's body was found by his father and authorities launched a massive search for Hailey, but it was called off after Saretzky confessed.
Saretzky took the toddler from the house to a campsite where he choked her to death with a shoelace, drank her blood, ate part of her heart and burned her body in a firepit.
Six months later, he confessed to the murder of Meketech.