Crown loses appeal to sentence killer of Nina Courtepatte as adult

EDMONTON — The mother of slain teenager Nina Courtepatte says she is extremely disappointed that the Alberta Court of Appeal has upheld a youth sentence for one of the young people convicted in her daughter’s killing.

EDMONTON — The mother of slain teenager Nina Courtepatte says she is extremely disappointed that the Alberta Court of Appeal has upheld a youth sentence for one of the young people convicted in her daughter’s killing.

The Crown had argued that the girl, who was convicted of second-degree murder but can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, should have actually been sentenced as an adult.

Nina was 13 when she was lured from West Edmonton Mall by a group of self-described “mall rats” with the promise of a bush party in the early hours of April 3, 2005. Instead, she was taken to a muddy fairway on a golf course west of the city, raped and beaten to death with a sledgehammer.

The crime, seemingly motivated by thrill-seeking and boredom, horrified Edmonton and drew national headlines.

The Appeal Court agreed with the trial judge who found that the girl’s role in the crime was limited compared to that of her co-accused —she did not participate in the planning, she did not strike the fatal blow, and she was a party to the aggravated sexual assault rather than a key perpetrator.

The trial judge also factored the teen’s immaturity into his decision to hand out a youth sentence of four years in custody and three years under community supervision.

Nina’s mother, Peacha Atkinson, told an Edmonton radio station that the decision is another blow to her faith in the justice system.

“It sucks because anybody who does a violent crime, they should pay for it,” she told talk-station CHED.

“If all the evidence is stacked against them, they should pay, because people who are in my shoes, we suffer so much and to have them walking around — they still get their birthdays and everything and we don’t. We just get our memories.”

Four people — a teenage boy, a man and two teenage girls — stand convicted in the killing after various trials and appeals. A fifth man was originally acquitted, but is to be retried in February.

The teenage boy who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder was sentenced as a youth. The other teenage girl was sentenced as an adult. (CHED, The Canadian Press)