It is difficult to put yesterday’s sentencing of Emily’s killer into perspective. I thought that after sleeping on it, words might come more easily. It is not to be. It is hard to sum up yesterday, let alone the almost two years that preceded yesterday’s closure. I know that there are many people looking for a personal reaction on this blog, so I will share a few thoughts.
First, in the big picture, yesterday’s sentence changes very little. God is still good, He is sovereign over all things. Emily is still not with us, though we have a sure hope that we will see her again. We still miss her terribly. As a family, we are doing well, carrying on and loving one another. We have grown in our love for God and one another, and we have a great, ever-widening circle of friends and a wonderful church family.
Yesterday was significant, though. We anticipated the sentence that was delivered. Some hear “18 years” and react negatively to such a short sentence. For the record, the sentence for second degree murder is a mandatory life-sentence with a minimum ten-year parole ineligibility. In this case, the ineligibility has been extended to 18 years due to particulars in this situation. We have been assured by the Crown prosecutor and by the closing comments of the Judge that all the facts relating to this brutal attack and the unrelated sexual interference charge will be on record for that time of evaluation 18 years down the road (or, specifically, 18 years from December, 2008).
We have said from the beginning that our hope is not in the Canadian Legal system. Justice is God’s, and, by His grace, we have been able to leave that to Him. We are thankful to God for the way this process has worked. We have been treated very well. We have been impressed with the professionalism, wisdom and care demonstrated by everyone in the system.
Our legal system is not perfect. It’s another human institution populated by fallible sinners, like every human institution, including, of course, the church. If you struggle with cynicism and a complaining attitude to Canadian institutions, consider the alternatives around the world and throughout history. We have it very, very good in Canada. My observations are anecdotal and the circumstances of this crime are extraordinary, but I am humbled and satisfied with how things have unfolded in this very difficult case.
Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Lawrie Smith was concise, serious and most professional as befits her position. Her closing words after sentencing were a surprise to us. She took the time to give profound credit to the RCMP for their exceptional work. She said directly that without their work, we would not be here today. She also took the time to address us and the other victim’s mother and encourage and commend us. She offered her prayers and spoke of the evidence of God’s grace in our lives. That was very much appreciated.
One of the things I most appreciated about the Justice’s closing comments is that they effectively turned everyone’s attention from the perpetrator to the victim’s families. That was classy and well done.
I hesitate to mention other names because there are so many people to thank, and miss. From the many RCMP officers; EMT members; Victim Services people; the Crown Prosecutors we dealt with; and others, let me say publicly that we are thankful, and impressed with the good work that these people do. There are much easier jobs out there, and I am deeply grateful for these people that serve all of us.
We are also thankful that we do not have to endure a trial and subsequent appeals. This stage is over. Now we are praying that we will have many more opportunities to share the Gospel with people that need to be reconciled to God. I am weak, but He is strong. May He be glorified in our lives.