Rengel's murderer sentenced to life

Melissa Todorovic, the teenage girl convicted of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 14-year-old Stefanie Rengel in Toronto, has received the adult sentence of life in prison.

Melissa Todorovic sentenced as adult for pushing boyfriend to kill perceived rival

Melissa Todorovic was convicted earlier this year of first-degree murder in the slaying of Stefanie Rengel. ((Toronto Police Services))
A 17-year-old girl was sentenced as an adult Tuesday in Toronto to life in prison for her part in the murder of Stefanie Rengel.

Melissa Todorovic was convicted earlier this year of first-degree murder in the slaying of the 14-year-old on New Year's Day 2008 outside her East York home.

Throughout her trial, Todorovic could only be referred to by her initials because her identity was protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The decision to sentence her as an adult means the teen's name can now be made public.

Justice Ian Nordheimer ruled that Todorovic will not be eligible to apply for parole for seven years. 

Todorovic wore a black T-shirt and her dark hair loose across her shoulders for her sentencing appearance, a marked contrast from her trial when she wore neat cardigans and her hair tied in a pony tail. 

The court was packed with onlookers — so many people that some had to stand. 

After the sentence was passed, one person in the courtroom clapped, just once. Todorovic's mother, brother and grandmother started to sob while members of Rengel's family silently cried.

As the 17-year-old was led from the courtroom in handcuffs, her eyes were filled with tears.

Rengel was stabbed six times and left to die in a snowbank by a male juvenile who cannot be named and is only known outside the court by the initials D.B.

D.B. pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges earlier this year and is awaiting sentencing.

The Crown is also seeking an adult sentence in that case.

Stefanie Rengel was stabbed and left to die on a city street on Jan. 1, 2008. (Courtesy Toronto Police Service)

The judge said the central question he had to deal with in making his decision was whether a youth sentence would be sufficient length to hold Todorovic accountable for repeatedly pressuring her boyfriend to kill Rengel.

Nordheimer said Todorovic has a character flaw that is frightening and that a youth sentence would fail to adequately protect the community.

Defence lawyer Marshall Sack had argued that a youth sentence was appropriate since Todorovic hadn't actually done the stabbing.

But Nordheimer rejected the argument saying "the puppetmaster is not less blameworthy than the puppet."

The judge said the girl had all the advantages of hardworking, loving parents, yet engaged in a murder he called "malevolent and shocking."

Outside the court, Sack told reporters he would advise the family to appeal the sentence.

Speaking on behalf of the Rengel family, Stefanie's brother Ian called Todorovic a "disturbed individual" and said he hoped she would benefit from the help now available to her.

"We still have more to go," said the 13-year-old in reference to the September sentencing of D.B. "But at least some of it has been done."

'Vile and obsessive jealousy'

In this court sketch, Melissa Todorovic passes by her relatives without looking at them after being sentenced to life in prison for the killing of Stefanie Rengel in Toronto. ((Alex Tavshunsky))
Todorovic was 15 when she was driven, according to Crown prosecutor Robin Flumerfelt, by "vile and obsessive jealousy," to use sexual blackmail via the internet to pressure D.B. into murdering her perceived rival — a girl she had never met.

During the trial, Flumerfelt cited months of text messages and MSN chat logs in which he alleged Todorovic used the blackmail to spur her then 17-year-old boyfriend into killing Rengel.

Evidence included online exchanges and a frantic pace of phone calls between Todorovic and D.B. that only abated after Rengel's slaying.