Ross Edward Kleman is led out of the courthouse in Hinton, Alta., on April 26. ((CBC) )

A judge has sentenced Ross Edward Kleman to life in prison, with no chance of parole for at least 18 years, for killing 14-year-old Emily Stauffer on a walking trail in Edson, Alta., two years ago.

Kleman, 45, pleaded guilty last April to second-degree murder.

"From what we've understood ... it is a long sentence for second-degree [murder] and we were just glad to have the guilty plea, so we're satisfied with that," Emily's Baptist minister father, Terry Stauffer, said outside the courthouse in Hinton, Alta.

The girl was killed along a walking path in the small town on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2008. Witnesses saw a man strangling her with a yellow rope.

The sentence was recommended to Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Lawrie Smith in a joint submission from the Crown and Kleman's lawyer.

Judge holds back tears

Stauffer's slaying had a profound impact on the community of Edson, about 200 kilometres west of Edmonton.

The emotion surrounding the case was evident Tuesday as Smith fought off tears while reading out the details of the attack in her judgment.

"I am not surprised," Crown prosecutor Michelle Doyle said when she was asked about it later. "It is a horrific, tragic case and the judge is a member of the community and feels it like the rest of us too."


Terry and Juanita Stauffer face reporters outside the Hinton courthouse after Ross Kleman's sentencing Tuesday. ((CBC))

Kleman admitted he attacked Stauffer with rope, a garrotte — a wire with handles — and a knife.

The prosecutor told the court that Stauffer fought back and screamed. But Kleman got her on the ground and broke a box-cutter knife blade in the attack.

He then pushed more of the blade out of the knife's shaft and slit the girl's throat, the prosecutor said.

A psychiatric assessment indicated Kleman had claimed to be suicidal from pressures at work and issues with his wife. But the reasons behind the attack have never been determined.

Kleman doesn't know what motivated him to attack the teen, his lawyer Jan Ter Hart said.

"This is truly a senseless crime," he said. "It just does not make sense. Even to him, it does not make sense."

Terry Stauffer said he and his wife, Juanita, don't need to know the reasons as they "won't bring Emily back."

"We're not wasting any time speculating on that, so we don't need that answer," he said.

Kleman also pleaded guilty to one count of sexual touching of a young girl in an unrelated case from 2008.

Kleman received a two-year sentence for that offence, to be served concurrently with the life sentence.