Man convicted in Mayerthorpe RCMP deaths denied parole

Dennis Cheeseman, one of two men convicted in the 2005 deaths of four Alberta RCMP officers near Mayerthorpe, Alta., was denied parole Wednesday.
Residents of Mayerthorpe, Alta. embrace during a March 2006 candlelight service, one year after RCMP Constables, left to right, Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston, Brock Myrol and Peter Schiemann were gunned down following a raid on a marijuana grow-op. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Dennis Cheeseman, one of two men convicted in the 2005 deaths of four Alberta RCMP officers on a farm near Mayerthorpe, Alta., was denied parole Wednesday.

The decision was made Wednesday following a hearing at Drumheller Penitentiary where the parole board met to consider Cheeseman's request for day and full parole.

Cheeseman and his brother-in-law Shawn Hennessey gave James Roszko a gun and a ride back to his farm prior to the shooting deaths of the officers.

Both men pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the deaths of constables Peter Schiemann, Anthony Gordon, Brock Myrol and Leo Johnston.

Cheeseman is serving a sentence of seven years, two months and 15 days. He was eligible for full parole on June 26, 2011.

The hearing, which lasted one hour and 45 minutes, was emotionally charged as board members heard from family members and Cheeseman himself, the CBC's Janice Johnston reported.

Dennis Cheeseman pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the deaths of four RCMP constables in Mayerthorpe, Alta. He is now seeking full parole. (Ian Jackson/Canadian Press)

Cheeseman told the board while he didn't pull the trigger, he was guilty of not calling the RCMP to warn them Roszko was heading to the farm with a gun.

Family members asked the panel to turn down Cheeseman's request.

After deliberating for 35 minutes, the board did just that, telling Cheeseman they believed he was only telling them what he thought they wanted to hear.

They didn't believe he was ready to be released into the community and had to do more work on psychological and anger issues.

Apology seemed 'distant'

Keith and Colleen Myrol, parents of Const. Brock Myrol, were pleased with the board's decision. 

Colleen Myrol believes that it is best for Cheeseman to remain in prison to get the type of help he needs.  

Keith and Colleen Myrol leave Drumheller Penitentiary Wednesday after attending Dennis Cheeseman's parole hearing. (CBC)

"Dennis didn't even really show that he was ready to get out by some of the things that he said," she said after the hearing. "I think he has a lot more work to get done."

At one point in the hearing, Cheeseman apologized although he didn't turn to face the families when he did.

"I would have like to have seen his face. But yes, that was the first apology we did hear from him," Myrol said, adding that it was possible Cheeseman might have not been allowed to turn around in the hearing room.

While she accepted the apology, it seemed "distant" to her.

"I agree," Keith Myrol said. "It's almost like when you have to do something. It seemed more like he had to apologize than he wanted to apologize, although once he started apologizing, his emotions showed."

Shawn Hennessey is not eligible for parole until 2012. He can apply for day parole in January 2012 and full parole in July of that same year.

The Myrols say they plan to go to Grande Cache for the hearing.

With files from the CBC's Janice Johnston and the Canadian Press