The mother of Letisha Reimer – who was stabbed to death at Abbotsford Senior Secondary in 2016 – had a blunt message for her daughter’s killer during the first day of his sentencing hearing on Wednesday (June 23).
“While I acknowledge none of this will have any impact on if, when or how the sentence is put in place, I hope that you never have another moment of peace again in your life, that every time you close your eyes, these are the thoughts that fill your brain and you cannot get away from these pictures or the sounds of her screams in your head,” Ellie Reimer told Gabriel Klein.
She was among seven people whose victim impact statements were presented in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Wednesday morning.
Klein was previously convicted of the second-degree murder of Letisha and the aggravated assault of her friend.
Ellie described the agony of receiving the phone call on Nov. 1, 2016 that her 13-year-old daughter had been stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary and not knowing her condition.
When she arrived at the school, she was directed to officers, who weren’t able to immediately provide her with any updated information. She saw one student come out on a stretcher and be loaded into an air ambulance, and thought Letisha would be next.
Then, she saw her daughter being wheeled out.
“I saw the colour of her face and I knew. I didn’t believe it or grasp it, but I did know,” Ellie said tearfully.
The family was informed at the hospital that medical personnel had done everything they could but Letisha had died before she had even arrived at the facility. They were then taken to see her.
“I touched her arm with my hand and squeezed for a long time. She was so cold, but her face looked so peaceful as if she was a sleeping girl. I was sure her eyelids would flutter open at any moment,” Ellie said.
She said this was just “one snippet” of how Letisha’s death has impacted their family over the years.
Letisha’s dad, Ulrich, also spoke in court, saying so much of the attention since his daughter’s death has been on Klein.
“But what he has done is not about him; it’s about her – my baby girl, Letisha Reimer. We all know what he has done to her and to the rest of our community,” he said.
He described Letisha as a “kind-hearted soul” who was loved by many and who enjoyed hiking, running, camping, hunting and “just enjoying nature.”
Ulrich said Letisha’s younger brother and sister looked up to her, and she helped out in church and was a youth leader.
He said he continues to struggle with anger, grief and hate, and feels that justice “has failed too many times before” while his family will be dealing with the trauma for the rest of their lives.
Also speaking at the hearing was the mother of Klein’s second victim, who was seriously injured in the assault after being stabbed four times. The girl’s name, and anything that can identify her, is protected by a publication ban.
The teen, who was 14 at the time, spent several weeks in hospital, required ongoing surgeries and suffered surgical complications. She opted not to provide a victim impact statement in court.
The mom said her daughter and family have endured ongoing trauma.
“We have been through years of struggling to get (her) to school each day and assured that she is in a safe place. We, as a family, have been forced to settle into a new normal … I can’t help but wonder what our family life would have been like if this crime had not happened, and what would have been for our family and for our daughter in the last years of her high school experience,” she said.
Others who presented impact statements included Letisha’s sister, aunt, uncle and cousin.
The sentencing hearing is slated to continue on Friday (June 25). Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence but a hearing is required to determine parole eligibility.
On Wednesday, the Crown recommended that parole eligibility be set at 18 years. Crown also recommended that Klein be sentenced to seven years, to be served concurrent with the life sentence, for the aggravated assault.
The defence has recommended parole eligibility be set at 12 years.
It is not yet know whether the judge will give her ruling at the conclusion of the hearing or reserve her decision for a later date.