The family of a murdered trans woman in Winnipeg has waited 12 years for justice, but will have to wait a little longer to find out when the man convicted of killing their loved one could become eligible for parole.
Manitoba Justice Richard Saull has reserved his sentencing decision for Theodore Herntier, 46, until June 23, 2016.
A jury found Herntier guilty of second-degree murder last November in relation to the brutal 2004 killing of Divas Boulanger, who had been working in the sex trade as Divas B.
The sentence comes with a mandatory life sentence with no eligibility of parole for 10 to 25 years. The Crown is asking Herntier not be eligible for the full 15 years while the defence wants 10.
RCMP found Boulanger dead at a rest stop near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, badly beaten with nine blows to the head. She had been stripped naked and wrapped in plastic, court heard on June 2, 2016.
At trial, the Crown alleged that Herntier had picked Boulanger up in his Toyota pick-up truck then driven to his machine shop, where he allegedly bludgeoned her to death. No motive was ever given at trial and Herntier pleaded not guilty.
Boulanger was 28 years old.
Crown counsel Mark Lafreniere told the court Boulanger’s body was dumped “like a piece of garbage,” which is what the man who first found her thought he had stumbled upon.
Boulanger’s sister Tammy, who still refers to Divas as her brother, broke down in tears when Lafreniere read her victim impact statement aloud.
“He wasn’t scum,” Tammy said in her statement.
“He was transgendered and I loved him,” she later told reporters outside the court.
Family of Divas Boulanger share memories of Divas with reporters. They say Herntier isn’t remorseful. pic.twitter.com/5qCvtQEbSG
— Austin Grabish (@AustinGrabish) June 2, 2016
(Tammy Boulanger and family speak to reporters outside court in Winnipeg./Austin Grabish/Daily Xtra)
“He’s my brother, and we still love him and no matter what he’s still family, and he’s human,” she said.
Herntier, who wore a plain grey T-shirt with matching pants and his hair tied back in a ponytail, displayed no emotion while the Boulanger family wept in the courtroom.
The only time Herntier talked was during two breaks in which he made small talk with a sheriff who was guarding him.
His defence lawyer, Martin Glazer, spoke at great length for most of the two-and-a-half hour proceedings June 2. He read a 25-page pre-sentence report almost verbatim aloud and said his client is not a violent person.
He urged the judge to consider the Gladue principle in his sentencing decision since Herntier is Métis, has suffered from the inter-generational effects of residential schools, and has battled an alcohol addiction.
Court heard Herntier had no criminal record before the 2004 killing.
Glazer said since being behind bars, Herntier has completed distance-ed courses and even found work within the jail.
He said Herntier wants to appeal the guilty verdict by the jury, but an appeal can’t be made until after he is sentenced on June 23.
Update, June 23, 2016: Theodore Herntier has been sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 15 years.
Editor’s note June 2, 2016: Murder carries a mandatory life sentence with no eligibility of parole for 10 to 25 years (not 10 to 15 years).