Brentwood homicide victims' families issue plea to Calgary media
5 families hope court document with graphic details will not be released to the public
The families of five Calgarians stabbed to death at a house party in April say they hope a judge will not unseal a court document from the case next week.
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The document is an information to obtain (ITO), also known as a search warrant application, and the families say it includes "the most graphic details of the crime."
Matthew de Grood has been charged with first-degree murder following the stabbing deaths on April 15. He has undergone a number of psychiatric assessments, the latest of which is also sealed.
"We struggle to understand the benefit to the public of publicizing this information prior to a trial," said the families in a written statement.
Matthew Woodley, the lawyer representing a consortium of news outlets, including the CBC, will be making the case in front of a Calgary judge on Nov. 26 to release the document.
"Courts in Canada are presumptively open, and the public has a legitimate interest in learning about what evidence a court relied on to issue search warrants," he said. "Criminal courts deal with difficult and tragic issues, but our law recognizes the need for openness and transparency."
The victims, all in their 20s, were celebrating the end of university classes when the stabbings happened. Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and Jordan Segura were killed.
Below is the full text of the letter sent to the media by their families.
To Members of the Media:
We once again write to you as one voice; a group of devastated family members who have lost our children in an unimaginable way.
It’s been just seven months since we lost Joshua, Kaiti, Jordan, Lawrence and Zackariah, and while time is supposed to heal all wounds, our families and friends have yet to begin to mend.
Each and every day we relive what has happened, as do the several young people who witnessed many of the events that evening.
On Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, a judge will rule whether the media’s request to unseal an information to obtain and warrants surrounding the most graphic details of the crime are granted. We can only hope our wish to have the information remain sealed until the trial is granted, however, we respect the decision of the courts in this matter.
Prior to the decision, we struggle to understand the benefit to the public of publicizing this information prior to a trial. We would suggest the details of this case are such that no one should want or need to hear [or] read about them prior to them being presented in a court of law.
Our priority as we try and rebuild our lives is to protect the dignity of our lost children and try and prevent the re-victimization of the young people who were traumatized by the events of April 15, 2014. They continue to relive every detail of that night, and the last thing any of us need at this time is additional anguish and sorrow.
The families are well aware of the important role the media plays in informing the public, including helping the Calgary Police Service appeal for witnesses and information pertaining to certain crimes. In this case, however, that assistance is not required and while we understand the details of the case will be made public at trial, we struggle with the need to obtain the information earlier.
We, the five families of the victims, oppose the release of the information and we ask for your sympathy and understanding at this time. Please, Calgary media, consider discontinuing your efforts to obtain these details.
We choose to celebrate how they lived, as opposed to glorify how they died. We implore you to do the same.
In the meantime, we are using our voice on social media to create awareness about our concerns. We feel we need to do this for our kids and their friends, and to protect the families that have been left behind.
Thank you for your consideration. We ask that you publicize this letter in its entirety.
The Hong family
The Perras family
The Rathwell family
The Segura family
The Hunter family