The young offender charged with the death of Delta teen Laura Szendrei pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday in a Surrey court room, after he was trapped by police in an elaborate sting operation.
Szendrei, 15, was attacked in broad daylight in Mackie Park in Delta in September 2010. She was taken to hospital with serious injuries, but died shortly afterwards. Hundreds attended a public memorial for the popular teen.
Then in February, 2011 a 18-year-old Delta male was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in her death.
In court on Thursday, members of the Szendrei family wept as the guilty plea was entered. Outside the court the family said they were happy with the second-degree murder conviction, even though original charge was first-degree murder.
But despite the guilty plea, Szendrei's father said he was very angry his daughter's killer, who is now 20 years old, cannot be publicly identified because he was 17 at the time of Szendrei's death.
Crown prosecutors have said they will seek an adult sentence for the man, who was just days away from his 18th birthday at the time of the crime. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for February.
At the time of the murder police released few details about the incident, except to say the man did not know Szendrei and was not previously known to them, and it appeared the attack was a crime of opportunity.
But during the preliminary hearing for the case, which began in August the Crown presented details for their case, which are reportable now that the trial has concluded.
Killer caught in Mr. Big sting
The court heard that on Sept. 25 at about 1:30 pm PT Laura Szendrei was planning to meet friends at Mackie Park. She was going through one of the trails when she was attacked.
A friend described hearing her screaming and then what to her sounded the pinging of a baseball bat hitting something. Her friends found her a few seconds later, barely alive and suffering severe head wounds.
When they arrived, the man who was eventually convicted of her murder was seen next to Szendrei. According to a friend, he seemed panicked and asked if she needed help.
The friend screamed at him to get away and said, "he almost stepped on her".
In order to get the man to confess to the murder, the police then mounted a big undercover campaign that included staging a video game competition that ultimately led to the man being introduced to a man he was led to believe was a very wealthy and powerful entertainment executive who wanted to help him and was prepared to make the teen's problems go away.
Ultimately, prosecutors said, the ruse led to a confession which helped police find the murder weapon, a metal pipe which was in his father's workshop.
Crown says they also found a device which they described as disturbing — a kind of home-made choking device made from plastic zap-straps.