Sentencing begins in case of fatal B.C. high school stabbing
NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. -- The sentencing hearing is underway for a man convicted of fatally stabbing one Abbotsford high school student and seriously injuring another.
Letisha Reimer was 13 years old when Gabriel Klein approached her in the atrium of Abbotsford Senior Secondary in November 2016 and stabbed her to death. Klein also stabbed another student, who cannot be identified. The child was seriously hurt, but survived.
The sentencing proceedings began on Wednesday at the B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. Seven people, including Reimer’s mother and father, read victim impact statements to the court.
Reimer’s mother, Eliane, reflected on the day her daughter was stabbed. She recalled seeing Letisha lying on a stretcher and the lack of colour in her face being a sign her daughter was in grave danger. She then turned her attention to Gabriel Klein, who sat in the courtroom, and told him she hopes he can never escape the sound of Letisha’s screams as he stabbed her 14 times with a hunting knife.
Letisha’s father, Ulrich, called Klein a coward. He described his daughter as a strong girl, but powerless when Klein attacked her from behind. He said no sentence will compare to the loss the Reimer family will have to cope with for the rest of their lives.
The court also heard from the mother of the second stabbing victim. The child survived the stabbing, but suffered health complications for months, including severe nerve pain. The mother described feeling guilt every time her child celebrates a milestone, because Letisha’s parents won’t be able to have those moments with their daughter.
Last year, Klein was found guilty of second-degree murder and aggravated assault. Shortly before the initial sentencing date, Klein’s lawyer applied for him to be deemed not criminally responsible due to mental illness. A judge dismissed that request last April. Klein, now in his mid-20s, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the days after the attack.
A second-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence, however parole varies from 10 to 25 years. Crown counsel Rob Mcgowan is asking for 18 years before parole eligibility, saying the violent attack was unprovoked and against two defenseless children who were going about their day in school. Defence argues Klein should be eligible for parole in 12 years.
Crown is also asking for the Correctional Service of Canada to determine where Klein will serve his prison term. Defence, however, wants the judge to make that decision.
A sentence is expected to be delivered by the end of the week.