A friend of the parents of a Newfoundland teenager who was murdered seven years ago are fighting her killer's request to avoid a public parole hearing.

Michael Lewis, 23,pleaded guilty in 2000 to the second-degree murder of Samantha Walsh, 13, who was found dead in a cabin outside her home community of Fleur de Lys.

Lewis, who is eligible to apply for parole this year, has asked that his request be considered behind closed doors.

Alex Harrold, a friend of parents George and Millie Walsh, has started a letter-writing campaign to persuade the National Parole Board to allow family members the opportunity to speak.

"I think they're entirely within their rights to put a face on it, that says this was a horrendous crime, and the details of it have never been revealed and Michael Lewis is the beneficiary of that," Harrold said.

Samantha Walsh was the subject of an intense search after she vanished from her community. The case captivated many people in Newfoundland and Labrador, even before its tragic conclusion.

Lewis confessed to the February 2000 crime after initially misleading investigators. Lewis took Walsh to a cabin, where he strangled her to death.

The National Parole Board, meanwhile, says it would be rare for a public hearing not to be held for cases involving serious offences, including murder.

"It's [Lewis's] right to ask not to be seen by a panel," said Brian Chase, who speaks for the board in Atlantic Canada.

"Whether the board members that review this case in the office will accept it or not, or whether our vice-chair, who will likely look at this case, will accept it is another story."

The board is still waiting to hear what the Correctional Service of Canada will recommend on the Lewis case.

Corrections

  • Michael Lewis strangled 13-year-old Samantha Walsh to death. He was not charged with sexual assault, as originally suggested.
    Jan 25, 2007 11:00 AM NT