Hunter Van Mackelberg, who was convicted of the second-degree murder of 19-year-old Kalix Langenau was sentenced to life in prison, with no parole for 12 years.
"Mr. Van Mackelberg's character, in my view, does not put him in a sympathetic position for sentencing purposes. His criminal record is recent. From early 2020 [it] displays a cavalier disregard for law and legal rights," Justice Glen Poelman said. "This is not a case where the minimum 10-year parole ineligibility period is fitting. However, a significantly higher period as proposed by the Crown is not fitting either."
Justice Poelman underlined that Mackelberg's youth was taken into consideration as a mitigating factor.
"Mr. Van Mackelberg is still a young man; even younger when he committed the offence. The objectives of specific deterrence and rehabilitation are therefore important in his case. It must be clear to him from the sentence that our system of justice will not tolerate such abhorrent violent crimes. But his youth requires me to recognize some prospects that he can be rehabilitated."
Prior to Justice Poelman's sentencing decision on Thursday afternoon, family and friends of Kalix Langenau gathered at the Court of Queen's Bench to read impact victim statements. 18 victim impact statements were submitted to the court. Tracy Henderson, Kalix's mother was the first to read her impact statement.
"I was the same age as Kalix when I gave birth to him as he was when you murdered him. Kalix was my rock, my sanity and my other better half," she said. "Instead of celebrating my son's 21st birthday, we sat in this courtroom, listening to how you stole him from us. But know that the field where you killed my son is our field now. We have replaced your evil with love."
Henderson said that Langenau's brothers were so traumatized by his death that they were not able to write statements. The crown prosecution, Ron Simenik, did however read the impact statement of Langenau's sister, Payton.
"Kalix I want to tell you about my life, what I miss about you, memories of things we did and what you will miss in the future," he read. "I miss your smile and your hugs. I miss annoying you whenever you were over. I want to go to your high school. I wish I could be more like you. I love you. I miss you."
John Langenau, Kalix's father was the last to speak to the court.
"Ever since Kalix came into my life, I had a purpose. I loved everything about being a father," he said between tears. "The thought that his brothers and sister will have to go through life without an older brother is unbearable to me. I feel like I failed. I have a permanent hole in my soul where the bright future of my Kalix should have been."
Justice Poelman said that the number of statements and their contents demonstrated the significant loss caused by Kalix's death.
"It is a testimony to the worth of the life of Kalix," he said. "Sentencing judges are entitled to consider the impact of crimes on a victim as an aggravating factor. Of course, as the authorities point out, even the most compelling victim impact statements cannot be used to increase a sentence beyond what would otherwise be fit according to law.
The crown sought parole ineligibility for 18 years prior to Justice Poelman's decision, arguing that Van Mackerlberg had pending criminal convictions, as well as what the crown argued was forethought and planning of an execution-style murder.
"The Crown's concerns about Mr. Van Mackelberg are well-founded. At the time of the murder, he had many charges pending against him. [There were] numerous property offences of the break and enter variety between October and November 2019 and criminal harassment of a domestic partner, between July 2017 and January 2019," Justice Poelman said. "When he killed Kalix, he was on release for all of these charges, the conditions of which of course he breached by committing the murder."
Mackelberg's defence counsel, Stacey Purser, submitted to the court that the minimum period of parole ineligibility of 10 years was appropriate in the circumstances, citing the fact that prior to Mackelberg being in his late teens, he had no criminal record and submitted to the court letters from family friends in support of her client. Prior to Justice Poelman's sentencing, he asked Mackelberg if he had anything to say.
"No thank you, Sir. I don't want to say anything," Mackelberg responded.
Mackelberg, who is now 21, was remanded into custody. He will be eligible for parole in 2034. Apart from the life in prison sentence, he will also be subjected to a lifetime weapons prohibition and will have to submit a DNA sample.