By Sherri Zickefoose
MEDICINE HAT - Canada’s youngest multiple killer is being moved to Calgary by the end of summer because she is making “significant progress” in pricy young offender rehab and earning straight As in school.
The girl was 12 when she and her former 23-year-old boyfriend Jeremy Steinke conspired to slaughter her parents and eight-year-old brother in their Medicine Hat home April 23, 2006.
The girl, who is now 16, cannot be identified.
During a hearing to review her progress Wednesday in Medicine Hat provincial court, Judge Scott Brooker heard the girl is responding well to therapy and the girl is maintaining a high school average in the high 80s.
“Things are going very well academically and from a theraputic perspective. It’s very positive, she’s making great strides,” said defence lawyer Katherin Beyak outside court.
“It definitely shows the system’s working. I know that sounds cliche, but basically a lot of resources have been put into this very unique situation and the system, as well as my client, seem to be responding appropriately.”
The teen, who called herself Runaway Devil online, appeared on closed circuit television from Edmonton Young Offenders Centre. Wearing a white blouse with long straight dark hair, she remained attentive but expressionless and politely responded “no, thank you,” when the judge asked if she had anything to say.
The girl remains in Alberta Hospital undergoing a rarely-used intensive rehabilitative custody and supervision sentence as part of her 10-year sentence -- the maximum in youth law. She will spend the next six years in a supervised home. At age 22, she will be free.
Court heard as part of the girl’s gradual reintergration to society, she will be moved from Alberta Hospital to a supervised Calgary home later this summer.
The solicitor general’s office will determine whether the girl will be placed in a Calgary group home, foster care or kinship custody to live with a relative.
“I think this next step in the transition is critical. How will society respond to her, how will she respond to be back in society? How will everyday occurences that you and I go through affect her? said Crown prosector Ramona Robins.
“I think its crucial and we’ll know more in six months if that’s been an easy transition or not.
Her extended family are supportive of her progress, Beyak said.
“A number of relatives have been supportive,” said Beyak.
During last November’s hearing, the girl was said to have been making progress in therapy, however still failed with her “ability to address her crimes.”
But now, the girl’s rehab has changed that.
“I no longer have those concerns but I will continue to ask about it,” said Robins.
Last November, the girl’s closed custody was loosened to open, allowing her escorted trips out onto hospital grounds and to shopping malls or banks.
But the girl has not yet ventured off hospital property, court heard.
“She hasn’t been off the grounds yet,” said Robins.
Based on court-ordered reports, both the crown and defence say she is not a risk to society.
Psychiatric pre-sentencing reports, which are sealed, described her in 2007 as suffering from oppositional defiance disorder and conduct disorder.
Before therapy began, the girl suffered from dependency issues, anxiety and depression, and was prone to immature problem-solving and wishful fantasies.
Last year, the girl was reported to be gaining ground in therapy, however the Crown said then the girl’s interpretation of facts surrounding the crime were ‘troubling.”
Several visits with relatives last year were a “milestone,” her former psychologist said. Before her relaxed conditions had almost no contact with the outside world, court heard.
During separate trials, both the girl and Steinke were found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder.
Steinke was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
After the murders, the pair had sex and were later witnessed laughing and necking at an alcohol-fuelled party down the street from the murder scene.
The next day, they were arrested sleeping with friends in truck police found in a Leader, Sask., school parking lot.
The girl and Steinke exchanged half a dozen jailhouse love letters, in which they agreed to marry. However, the relationship crumbled when they blamed each other for the boy’s murder.
The girl’s next review hearing is slated for January 2011.
Medicine Hat is about 290 kilometres southeast of Calgary.