'This was a monstrous attack on a young girl': Tyrell Perron sentenced to life in prison

Tyrell Perron, 24, will spend the next 25 years of his life in prison after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and offering an indignity to a dead body.

Perron to serve 25 years in prison for murder of 14-year old Edson girl

Tyrell Perron, 24 will serve a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years for the first-degree murder of a 14-year old Edson girl. (RCMP/Court exhibit)

A week ago, Tyrell Perron turned 24 years old. Now he faces the next 25 years behind bars.

On Wednesday afternoon in Hinton Court of Queen's Bench, a jury found Perron guilty of first-degree murder and guilty of offering an indignity to a dead body. 

The girl can only be identified by her initials, D.H., due to a court-ordered publication ban.

Perron stood over his sleeping 14-year old victim holding a knife early in the morning on March 4, 2016.

Perron stabbed her in the neck. When D.H. began to scream, he smothered her with a pillow. After she stopped making noise, he sexually assaulted her.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Paul Belzil noted, "When she fell asleep she would have had no idea her life was in danger."

"One can only imagine the terror that she was experiencing at that time," the judge said. "She was only 14 years of age, and was facing what turned out to be a life-ending crisis."

She didn't deserve this.- Court of Queen's Bench Justice Paul Belzil

"This was a monstrous attack on a young girl by an adult person much stronger, much taller."

"She didn't deserve this," Belzil said.  

The judge confirmed Perron would serve an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years on the first-degree murder conviction. He also agreed with the Crown that Perron should serve the maximum five years concurrently for sexually assaulting his 14-year-old victim after she was dead.

The judge said the sexual assault must be denounced.

"Having taken the life of this young girl, to then violate her sexually was on top of the egregious act of murder, was an appalling thing to do to this young girl," Belzil said.

Blood stains the floor of an Edson apartment living room where D.H. was murdered. The murder weapon, a knife, was found hidden underneath a couch cushion. (RCMP/Court exhibit )

The judge also placed Perron on the sex offender registry for life, noting society must be protected from him once he's released.

Killer apologizes

Before he was sentenced, Perron was given the chance to address the court. He stood in the prisoner's box and turned toward the victim's family, sitting in the front two rows of the courtroom.

In a halting voice, fighting back tears, he said, "I know that there are no words that I can say that can make up for what's happened to your family. But if I ever make it out of jail and I survive, I'm going to do my best to be a good person and make a difference in this world. I'm so sorry you had to go through this."

Afterwards, D.H.'s mother told CBC News she didn't think much of the apology.

"Too little too late," she said.

"Two years ago would have been nice."

In the victim impact statement the teen's mother wrote a month after D.H.'s death, she described her "overwhelming feeling of grief and loss."

"I feel anger, frustration, confusion and sadness," she wrote. "I also feel extreme guilt over not being able to protect my child."

"I have also lost Tyrell," the mother continued. "He was like a son to me and a brother to [D.H.]."

'Tyrell you made a big mistake'

The victim's 11-year-old sister also wrote a victim impact statement last month that was read aloud in court.

She wrote about how much she misses her big sister.

"It hurts to see that she is gone," the girl wrote. "[She] liked to tease me lots ... She was a super fun and happy girl. Even though she picked on me, I still love her."

The written statement ended with, "Tyrell you made a big mistake."

"I just want to hear her again."

Trial could have been avoided

CBC News has learned that at one point, Perron was prepared to plead guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder and avoid putting the victim's family through a trial.

Perron's defence lawyer, Derek Anderson, confirmed the former Crown had offered a plea deal to Perron and likely would have been given a shorter term of parole ineligibility than the 25 years he now faces.

Then Perron switched lawyers.

"I was aware of the offer, yes," Anderson said. "Mr. Perron was aware of the offer. My instructions were always to proceed to trial and we did. In light of some of the issues that we saw going into trial, he felt it was important to have a trial."

Anderson said Perron is now considering an appeal.

Defence lawyer Derek Anderson (left), and Crown Phil LeFeuvre (right), outside the Hinton courthouse. (Janice Johnston/CBC News )

He also indicated his client was doing as well as could be expected, given the circumstances.

"He's young, he has no criminal record, he appreciates what he's looking at and he's ready to face it head-on," Anderson said.

Outside court, Crown prosecutor Phil LeFeuvre said his team is satisfied with the outcome.

"We believe that the charges were based on the evidence and the jury heard the evidence and delivered a reasonable verdict," LeFeuvre said.

But he noted what a difficult case it must have been for the jury to hear.

"The details of this case were very graphic," LeFeuvre said.

"And of course, tragic."

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston