Sentencing on murder conviction delayed

Sentencing of a Delburne man convicted of first-degree murder of his estranged wife was delayed Wednesday because the defence has requested a judicial stay be entered on one of five other charges he was convicted on.

Sentencing of a Delburne man convicted of first-degree murder of his estranged wife was delayed Wednesday because the defence has requested a judicial stay be entered on one of five other charges he was convicted on.

Brian Clarence Volker, 50, will now be sentenced on Monday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench following written submissions to Justice Doreen Sulyma by Friday.

Defence lawyer Patty MacNaughton argued that a stay is appropriate because a break and enter conviction is an included offence in the shooting death of Debi Volker, 44, on Feb. 23, 2009.

“It’s all part and parcel of the murder,” MacNaughton said.

However, Crown prosecutor Anders Quist argued that he needed time to prepare a proper argument to have it remain on the list of convictions but the jail time for it would be concurrent to the murder sentence.

“I’m not going to be ambushed in this fashion,” Quist said.

He argued that MacNaughton’s argument for a stay should have been made before the judge instructed the jury on the law, after the evidence was finished.

A stay means a charge is held in limbo for a set period or forever.

First-degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life in jail without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

There is a provision in the Criminal Code of Canada called the “faint hope” clause which allows a person serving such a sentence to apply for parole after serving 15 years in jail.

The sentence, according to the Criminal Code, actually started on the day Brian Volker was arrested, court heard.

Volker was convicted of shooting Debi Volker with a .22-calibre sawed-off rifle in her Delburne home with their three children aged 11, 14 and 16 home at the time.

Court heard that Brian Volker went to Debi’s home in Delburne about 3 a.m. with the rifle, killed her and left a suicide note at his home with documents setting out his affairs.

Debi Volker’s aunt, Linda Wright of Calgary, was the only family member to read her victim impact statement.

She said her family was in Hawaii celebrating her son’s birthday when she received word of the murder.

The family couldn’t make it back for the funeral in time and were left to suffer alone in their grief, away from the rest of the family.

She said Debi Volker’s long-time relative, Betty Jones, was in a nursing home and when the news reached her, it was devastating.

Wright said Jones’ health went steadily downhill after that and she died a few weeks later.

“She kind of gave up and died of a broken heart,” the registered nurse said.

Wright said she questions herself still if she couldn’t have done more to protect Debi after she and her children left Brian Volker in early November, 2008.

The Crown argued at trial that Brian Volker wanted revenge on his wife for leaving him and then issuing him divorce papers a few weeks before her death.

In his defence Brian Volker testified he took five sleeping pills about 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, 2009, and only remembers waking up in hospital about 38 hours later.

MacNaughton said outside court she couldn’t comment until the sentencing phase was finished.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com