Catherine McKenzie, the Saskatchewan woman convicted of second-degree murder for her role in the vicious slaying of her group home caregiver in 1997, has been granted day parole.
McKenzie, along with Serena Nicotine, were charged following the death of Helen Montgomery, 58, who operated a group home in North Battleford.
In December of 1997 there was an altercation in the home involving McKenzie and Nicotine, both 15 at the time, and Montgomery. The altercation turned violent and Montgomery was assaulted and stabbed multiple times. The teens stole the woman's credit cards and vehicle and were caught two days later.
McKenzie is now 31 years old.
Tried as an adult
Although she was a young offender at the time of the killing, McKenzie was tried as an adult. She had been charged with first-degree murder but, on the eve of her trial pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. In 2001, she was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for seven years.
Although she was was eligible for parole in 2008, McKenzie was not granted any form of release until several years after that date.
According to documents from the Parole Board of Canada, McKenzie initially had difficulty following prison rules but her behaviour improved.
She won day parole following a hearing earlier this month. The board noted that she had already completed a series of successful day passes, escorted and unescorted.
It was not revealed where McKenzie would go for day parole, but typically the board supports parole plans where the offender has family ties or positive community supports.
McKenzie has matured, parole board says
In the decision to grant day parole, board members said McKenzie had matured, has expressed remorse for the killing, and had developed skills in handling stress.
"The board feels that you have demonstrated stability in the community on work release and you have taken the initiative to build skills and credibility through career building and educational goals," the decision, provided to CBC News Thursday, said. "The board concludes that your risk would not be considered undue if you were to be released on day parole and abide by your special conditions."
The conditions include not to consume or purchase alcohol or any non-prescribed drugs. McKenzie must also stay away from gangs or any person who has known connections to criminal activity.
She was approved for day parole to a halfway house as soon as space becomes available. The approval was for six months.