MEDICINE HAT — A southern Alberta teen convicted of fatally stabbing her parents and younger brother will eventually be given more freedom to help her reintegrate into society.
A judge in Medicine Hat agreed Monday to loosen the terms of the girl’s custody so that her supervisors at an Edmonton psychiatric hospital can escort her on visits to places such as banks and malls.
The girl, who can’t be identified, appeared in court in via closed circuit television and thanked the judge when asked if she had anything to say.
The girl’s treatment team will have to receive approval from the Solicitor General’s Department before any such trips, which are still 12 to 18 months down the road.
The girl, now 16, was 12 when her family was slain in 2006, has been restricted to a secure building at Alberta Hospital Edmonton.
Crown prosecutor Ramona Robins did not oppose open custody, but asked Justice Scott Brooker to clarify if all of the dozen goals for rehabilitation set out in his original sentencing should be satisfied before granting a change.
She was concerned about the 11th goal, which is to get the girl to understand the process that led up to the murders and the impact of her crime.
“When I review the (girl’s psychiatric) report, I don’t see that goal being achieved as well as perhaps other ones have,” said Robins.
Dr. Vinesh Gupta, the psychiatrist in charge of the girl’s treatment, says the teen may never understand why she killed her parents and brother and the consequences.
“In some ways we feel that we will not be able to achieve that goal, specifically, in its entirety,” Gupta told the court.
“The expectation is not that she will fully achieve that before she is discharged but we will continue to work on it.”
Gupta added the teen has made significant improvements in that area over the last six months.
She has met with family members in the last few months, which has also been beneficial, Gupta told court.
Details of those meetings are contained in the psychiatric report that has not been released to the public.
The judge agreed to Robins’ request to increase the teen’s sentence reviews to every six months from once a year.
Outside court, Katherin Beyak told reporters open custody will allow her client to gradually integrate back into society.
When asked if the girl still poses a threat to the community, Beyak said the risk is manageable.
“That is why (the treatment team) has suggested the open custody setting.”
Robins said she is still troubled by the girl’s lack of recognition of her role in the murders.
Jeremy Steinke, 25, the girl’s former boyfriend, was convicted of first-degree murder for his part in the killings and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole until April 2013.