A Saanich man who has spent more than half his life in prison will get another shot at day parole after an appeal was granted and a new review ordered for the denial of his parole last year.
The Parole Board of Canada Appeal Division has ordered a new review for Derik Christopher Lord — who is serving a life sentence for two counts of first-degree murder — after they found the board did not take into consideration Lord’s engagement with his Aboriginal culture and his cultural support from the community.
Lord was 17 years old when he and another high school student, David Muir, carried out a plan by a third teen, Darren Huenemann, to kill Huenemann’s mother and grandmother in October 1990.
Sharon Huenemann was 47 and her mother, Doris Leatherbarrow, was 69 when they were beaten and stabbed in the kitchen of Leatherbarrow’s Tsawwassen home as they prepared to serve the two teens dinner.
Darren Huenemann attended the same Saanich high school as Lord and Muir and had promised them cars, homes and monthly salaries if they killed his relatives and cleared the way for what Huenemann believed would be a roughly $3-million inheritance.
All three teens were convicted in 1992.
Lord, now 47, has applied multiple times for parole, but his latest application was denied in September 2019, in part because the Parole Board found he continues to deny his role in the murders. The decision is now under review after Lord appealed the decision stating the board discounted any gains he made through learning opportunities and programs not facilitated by Correctional Service Canada, and their failure to recognize the benefits of engaging with Lord’s Aboriginal culture.
According to the Parole Board, when making decisions of Indigenous offenders the board must be “attentive to the systematic disadvantages and discrimination which may have contributed to an Indigenous offender’s engagement with the criminal justice system.”
The Appeal Division found the board should have taken into account the opinion of Indigenous elders, along with giving weight to “culturally relevant interventions.”
Victim impact statements read during the parole hearing last September at the Matsqui Institution in Abbotsford, where Lord is being held, show the Huenemann and Leatherbarrow families still oppose his release.
“They express their trauma and psychological harm as well as the deep loss they continue to suffer as a result of not only the deaths of their loved ones but your refusal to accept responsibility,” the Parole Board of Canada said.
Lord and Muir were each sentenced to life in prison but were eligible to apply for parole within 10 years, while Huenemann was not eligible for parole for 25 years.
Muir admitted his guilt and was granted full parole in 2003.
Huenemann, who now uses the last name of Gowan, his biological father’s surname, applied for parole in 2017 but was denied and remains behind bars at a correctional facility in Quebec.
— With files from The Canadian Press