Charlotte Lafferty's killer may face 10 years in prison

The murder trial may be over but for Charlotte Lafferty's family, the healing process is still beginning and sentencing awaits her killer.

Woman's family and friends mourn young mother

A memorial now stands near the Fort Good Hope elders complex where Charlotte Lafferty was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted for 20 to 30 minutes on the morning of March 22, 2014.

Her father, Rudolph Kochon helped build it, milling the wood from a big log pulled out of the Mackenzie River, which flows by the community.

A memorial for Charlotte Lafferty stands in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T. Lafferty was murdered near the community's elders' complex on March 22, 2014. (submitted by Yvonne Doolittle)

The trial of the man accused of killing Lafferty is over, but the guilty verdict is just the beginning of new stages in the lives of those most affected by the murder.

Lafferty's parents say the guilty verdict allows them to now focus on their own healing, on coming to terms with the sudden and brutal loss of their 23­-year-­old daughter. The parents of the man found guilty of first degree murder must now come to terms with their 19­-year-­old son going to prison.

Lafferty, a 23-year-old mother, was the eldest of seven children. Those who knew her say she was a joker, that she liked to make people laugh and was a good friend.

There is a story about Lafferty that's been repeated many times in her family. When she was seven, she heard that her auntie Melissa and uncle Bobert were leaving Fort Good Hope to spend a few days at their camp in the bush.

Young Charlotte was determined to go. She arrived at her uncle and aunt's house and told them her parents had given their permission to take her out instead of her younger brother, Buril. She had packed a bag and was ready to go.

After they left with her, her uncle and aunt got suspicious about Charlotte's story. They checked her bag. There was no food or clothing in it, just toys.

Lafferty's mom, Louisa, testified that her daughter had attended classes at the Learning Centre in Fort Good Hope until just before she was murdered. She had to leave because she could not keep up with the cost of keeping her twin baby boys in daycare.

Louisa had been in Yellowknife getting training, and returned the day before Lafferty was killed. While in Yellowknife, Louisa had bought soaps, a new pair of shoes and a necklace for Charlotte.

Through the morning of March 22, 2014, as word that a young woman being found dead near the elders complex circulated in the community, a sense of dread grew in Louisa Lafferty's heart. Her daughter was not in her room that morning. Louisa did not know where Charlotte was.

The shoes Louisa bought for her daughter can be seen in video the RCMP shot of the crime scene, lying in the blood-stained snow, with a clump of hair that had been pulled from Charlotte's head during the attack. Though not visible in the video, the necklace is also there.

It was later that day that the dread turned to heartbreak. The RCMP showed Louisa photos of the necklace and the shoes, and she realized her daughter, the mother of her grandchildren, was gone.

Sentencing to come

Though the man convicted of murdering Lafferty is now 19, he was just 17 when he was charged. As a result, he cannot be identified.

The man made a brief appearance in court on Friday, the day after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. The prosecutor said he will undergo a psychiatric assessment in an Edmonton hospital as part of the process of sentencing him as an adult.

Because of the seriousness of the crime, the law presumes that the man will be sentenced as an adult. It will be up to him and his lawyer to convince the court not to do that.

If sentenced as an adult, the man would automatically get life in prison. But the law states that a youth sentenced as an adult for first-degree murder would have to serve only 10 years before becoming eligible for parole, instead of the adult minimum of 25 years before eligibility for parole.