Teen girl's butcher gets life 0
Kristopher Lavallee and Gregory Hepp pose for a photo at the campsite they were living at in Minnow Lake in the spring of 2009. (Supplied)
SUDBURY, Ont. -- A city man with no "moral compass" will spend at least 18 years in jail for helping kill, burn and dismember a 15-year-old Sudbury girl three years ago.
"There can be no greater crime than to snuff out the life of a young person when she had her whole life ahead of her and was someone who treated Kristopher Lavallee as a friend," Judge Louise Gauthier said Wednesday.
"The community is deeply devastated by the death of Whitney (Dohlie) Van Der Wouden and further devastated by the considerable, time, energy and efforts of Kristopher Lavallee to wipe out the existence of her remains."
Accepting a joint submission by the Crown and defence lawyers, Gauthier sentenced Lavallee to a life sentence with no chance of parole for 18 years.
Earlier in the day, Lavallee - who was headed to a lengthy judge and jury trial on charges of first-degree murder and causing an indignity to human remains - opted to plead guilty second-degree murder. The second charge was dropped.
"I'd just like to say I truly am sorry for this," a soft-spoken Lavallee, 31, told the court just before he was sentenced. "It should never have happened."
Gauthier also gave Lavallee a lifetime weapons ban and ordered him to provide a sample to the national DNA bank.
Lavallee's co-accused, Gregory Hepp, 20, was convicted by a jury in March 2011 of second-degree murder and causing an indignity to human remains. In July 2011, he received a life sentence with no chance of parole for seven years.
Hepp and Lavallee could not be tried at the same time because Hepp was a youth at the time of the murder.
Both men surrended to police in Quebec in June 2009 after a Canada-wide warrant was issued for their arrests.
According to the Crown, after Van Der Wouden was killed and dismembered at a campsite in the bush in Minnow Lake a few months earlier, Hepp and Lavallee tried to burn the body, dismembered it and buried what remained.
The killers then stayed in Arnprior, Ont., for about a month before moving on to Quebec.
However, Lavallee had told a friend about what had happened and that led to police linking the pair to Van Der Wouden's disappearance.
Dohlie's father, Paul Van Der Wouden, told the court in his victim impact statement that he thinks of his late daughter every day and night.
"I imagine the things that should have been: a grandson, a granddaughter, a son-in-law, Dohlie getting married, dancing with my daughter at her wedding," he said. "I am not a judge ... (But) when these accused persons leave this Earth, they will face up to the ultimate justice: our Father in heaven."
In her sentencing submission, defence lawyer Susan Adams said Lavallee has been on his own since age 15, had alcohol and substance issues, and is suffering from mental health problems such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorder and depression.
She said he has no contact with his mother and just learned that his father has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
Assistant Crown attorney Walker, in his sentencing submission, said Lavallee took a young life without provocation.
"The only reason for the killing was because there was personal risk to the accused of a criminal allegation involving sexual assault," he said. "There was also the brutal, grisly and superhuman effort required to dispose of the victim's body in an attempt to destroy any evidence of her identity."
Walker said how Lavallee conducted himself after the murder speaks volumes about his character.
"With his thoughts and actions, this man has demonstrated to me a total lack of moral compass," he said. "All the things he did from the onset of her death were designed to extricate himself from being identified."
In the agreed statement of facts read in court, it was noted that Dohlie was having consensual sex with Hepp in the tent at the campsite when Lavallee attempted to join in.
Dohlie resisted, got upset and threatened to go to police. Lavallee then grabbed Dohlie by the neck, while Hepp stabbed her to death.
The pair then used an accelerant - four litres of methyl hydrate, which had been given to them by a friend's father - to burn Dohlie's body.
Six hours later, they attempted to destroy what was left and then bury it. The tent was also burned, as was clothing the two were wearing that night.
After leaving the city and relocating in Arnprior, the pair was at a campfire when Hepp started rapping about burning bodies and flesh.
Lavallee told a startled friend that what Hepp was rapping about was true and that they had met a 17-year-old runaway. That friend later alerted police.
When Lavallee was being escorted back to Sudbury by Ontario Provincial Police in June 2009 after he and Hepp surrendered, he did not know that he was talking to an undercover police officer.
In the taped conversation, Lavallee talked about Dohlie's murder and said "we stood over her for an hour. What do we do? What do we do? What do we do?"
Lavallee said it took almost six hours for Dohlie's body to burn. The fire pit was then moved six feet away - a key piece of information that allowed police investigators at the crime scene to locate more evidence.