Calgary

'It's taking its toll and we're tired,' murder victim's family says after Calgary killer sentenced again

Six years into the "never ending" and "gruelling" court process, Brett Wiese's parents say they are are hoping for closure after one of their son's killers was sentenced a second time to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years.

Mitchell Harkes sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years

Brett Wiese, a 20-year-old business student at the University of Calgary, died after being stabbed at a house party in northwest Calgary. Mitchell Harkes was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years but is appealing. (Courtesy of the Wiese family)

Six years into the "never ending" and "gruelling" court process, Brett Wiese's parents are hoping for closure, not for the grief they feel from losing their 20-year-old son to murder, but in the sense that they won't have to sit through yet another trial.

"We're approaching 80-plus days in court now," said Brenda Wiese after Mitchell Harkes was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years.

"It's taking its toll and we're tired. It impacts us body, mind and spirit. It's got to come to an end at some point."

Brett Wiese, 20, a business student at the University of Calgary, was fatally stabbed by Harkes and a teenage girl in January 2013. The girl's name is protected by a publication ban because of her age at the time of the murder.

Wiese's parents have had to sit through three trials and two appeals. After Harkes was found guilty in 2015, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial. Last month, a jury found Harkes guilty a second time. 

Jody and Brenda Wiese stand with Colton Lewis at the Calgary Courts Centre. The Wiese family lost their son Brett in a stabbing attack at a house party in 2013. Lewis was stabbed five times in the attack. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Defence lawyer Tonii Roulston says her client is "extremely remorseful."

The girl, now a young woman, was also found guilty of second-degree murder. She was tried as a young offender but sentenced as an adult though she successfully appealed that sentence. 

On Jan. 12, 2013, Wiese and his friends were hosting a house party. Earlier in the evening, they told a group of underage girls to leave.

One of the girls was so angry, she returned with Mitchell Harkes. Armed with knives, they attacked Wiese and three others, including Colton Lewis, who survived five stab wounds. 

Lewis is also hoping for an end to the court process.

"It takes us right back to that evening," said Lewis. "We're going to have to do it again, whether it's at the parole board or listening to an appeal hearing. It's tough but I'm happy that the day is over today."

In sentencing Harkes on Thursday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Robert Hall said the killer's actions were gratuitous and vengeful.

"Mr. Harkes was motivated with a form of vigilante justice," said Hall. "There was no justification for his actions."

"There's no excuse for what you did. You broke into a private dwelling and took the life of a fine young man for no reason whatsoever."

Harkes has been in custody for the past six years and gets credit for time served.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is a justice affairs reporter. She has been covering courts, crime and stories of police accountability in southern Alberta for more than a decade. Send Meghan a story tip at meghan.grant@cbc.ca or follow her on Twitter.

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