'He was a coward then, he's a coward now': Abbotsford school killer declines to speak at sentencing

A judge has sentenced Gabriel Klein to life in prison with no chance of parole for 16 years for killing 13-year-old Letisha Reimer inside Abbotsford Secondary School. Crown had asked for 18 years, and defence asked for a 12-year sentence.

Klein was also sentenced to seven years to be served concurrently for stabbing Reimer’s friend and classmate, who survived the Nov. 1, 2016 attack and whose name is protected by a publication ban.

Reimer’s parents were in court for sentencing and asked family spokesperson Dave Teixeira to read a prepared statement for the media.

The statement read in part: “No amount of jail time will bring back my daughter Letisha, but I’m grateful the court arrived at this decision today. This was a long, heavy journey that was made more difficult by a process that was tilted to the whims of the criminal.”

Only after being found guilty of murdering Reimer and injuring her friend did Klein try to claim he was not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder. Justice Heather Holmes dismissed that argument, but it delayed sentencing for nearly a year, which infuriated the victims' families.

“I think Justice Holmes said it very well that during the last five years of this court case, the attention has been on the child killer. And today the attention is and should have always been on Letisha Reimer, and her friend who was assaulted that day,” said Teixeira.

The judge gave Klein a chance to address the victims' families before sentencing, but he declined. Teixeira said Reimer’s parents were not surprised

“The feeling was he was a coward then, he’s a coward now. I mean quite frankly, what could he say? The day to be sorry was a day before he killed Letisha, it’s not five years later when you’re facing a sentencing, that’s disingenuous,” said Teixeira.

Klein’s lawyer Martin Peters claims his client stayed silent out of fear of saying the wrong thing.

“He read all 46 victim impact statement and he said Martin, what I did that day was evil and horrible, and when I read the victim impact statements I cried,“ Peters recounted.

The time Klein has spent in custody since the stabbings counts toward his 16 year wait for parole eligibility. That means he’ll be able to first apply for parole in 11 years and four months, on Nov. 1, 2032.

If he does ask to be released, Reimer’s parents will fight to keep their daughter’s killer behind bars.

“Life after today is unfortunately going to be a sad reminder,” said Teixeira. ”There are anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day always come up. And they celebrate those with their families, and certainly cherish the memory of Letisha."