LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – An Alberta man who butchered a father, his two-year-old daughter and an elderly woman two years ago is expected to come face-to-face today with the families of his victims.
It took a jury just three hours Wednesday to convict Derek Saretzky of three counts of first-degree murder and a fourth charge of causing indignity to a human body.
The 24-year-old murdered Terry Blanchette, his daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and 69-year-old Hanne Meketech in the Crowsnest Pass area of southwestern Alberta in September 2015.
The jury recommended he not be eligible for parole for 75 years.
Saretzky is scheduled to face sentencing arguments and hear eight impact statements from friends and family members of the three victims.
Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou expects two or three of them will be read aloud in court.
Defence lawyer Patrick Edgerton told reporters that the case was emotional for everyone involved.
“This has been a tough process for everyone involved from the Blanchette and Saretzky families to the community in the Crowsnest Pass to the judge, the jury and the court staff,” Edgerton said.
“There was a lot of emotion and despite that, the jury retired and deliberated and returned with both a verdict and a sentence recommendation.”
A conviction of first-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. The court can decide to make the periods of parole ineligibility consecutive, which in this case would be 75 years.
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The court heard videotaped confessions from Saretzky who told police he killed Meketech — a friend of his grandparents — on the spur of the moment and because he didn’t think anybody cared about her.
Five days later, Blanchette was beaten before his throat was cut in the home where he lived with Hailey. The little girl was plucked from her crib and spirited away from the bloody crime scene.
Blanchette’s body was found by his father and authorities launched a massive search for Hailey but it was called off after Saretzky confessed.
Saretzky told police he took the toddler from the house to a campsite, which was partially owned by his family.
Once there, he choked her to death with a shoelace. He said “a little prayer” over the girl before he drank her blood, ate part of her heart and burned her body in a firepit.
Six months later he confessed to the murder of Meketech, which had occurred five days before the Blanchette murders. He said he did it on the spur of the moment and because he didn’t think anyone would miss her.
Edgerton said his client deserved to be represented in a fair trial.
“As defence lawyers, this is what we sign up for. Everybody deserves a fair trial,” he said.
“Everyone is entitled to a jury of their peers for these offences and Mr. Saretzky is no exception so I’m just doing my job.”
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