CALGARY – The families of the five young people killed in Calgary’s worst mass murder are opposing a request by the media to access and report on sealed information about the case.
Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Josh Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, and Lawrence Hong, 27, were celebrating the end of the school year when they were killed during a stabbing spree at a house party on April 15.
Matthew de Grood, 22, is charged with five counts of first-degree murder. He has been found fit to stand trial but no date has been set. He has been ordered to undergo a pair of psychological assessments but the findings are protected under a publication ban.
Limited details about what happened leading up to, during, and after the killings have been released.
Media outlets, including Global News, have applied to the Court for access to the contents of the Information to Obtain document (ITO) connected to the case. An ITO is a legal document which contains information police must provide to a judge in order to be granted a warrant.
On Monday, the families of the victims released a statement asking for the media application to be withdrawn:
“We struggle to understand the benefit to the public of publicizing this information prior to a trial. We would suggest the details of this case are such that no one should want or need to hear / read about them prior to them being presented in a court of law.”
The statement, which was released via the Calgary Police Service, says all five families are opposed to the release of the information in the ITO.
Matthew Woodley of Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer is representing a number of media outlets – including Global Calgary – at the hearing.
“Courts in Canada are presumptively open, and the public has a legitimate interest in learning about what evidence a court relied on to issue search warrants,” said Woodley. “Criminal courts deal with difficult and tragic issues, but our law recognizes the need for openness and transparency.”
Ron Waksman, senior director of editorial standards & practices for Global News, points out that the organization’s Journalistic Principles and Practices help determine appropriate steps in balancing public interest with community standards.
“The contents of the ITO would only be reported after careful editorial review and consideration,” said Waksman. “Journalistic integrity includes making decisions thoughtfully and with sensitivity. We work here, but we also live here as part of the community we serve.”
Marc Chikinda, dean of the faculty of communication studies at Mount Royal University, says while the request by the families is understandable, journalists have an obligation to report on troubling stories and not doing so “would leave an abiding lack of complete story-telling that is the professional duty of a journalist.”
The application will be heard in Provincial Court in Calgary next Wednesday, Nov. 26.
Monday, Nov. 17, 2014
To Members of the Media:
We once again write to you as one voice; a group of devastated family members who have lost our children in an unimaginable way.
It’s been just seven months since we lost Joshua, Kaiti, Jordan, Lawrence and Zackariah, and while time is supposed to heal all wounds, our families and friends have yet to begin to mend.
Each and every day we relive what has happened, as do the several young people who witnessed many of the events that evening.
On Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, a judge will rule whether the media’s request to unseal an Information to Obtain and warrants surrounding the most graphic details of the crime are granted. We can only hope our wish to have the information remain sealed until the trial is granted, however, we respect the decision of the courts in this matter.
Prior to the decision, we struggle to understand the benefit to the public of publicizing this information prior to a trial. We would suggest the details of this case are such that no one should want or need to hear / read about them prior to them being presented in a court of law.
Our priority as we try and rebuild our lives is to protect the dignity of our lost children and try and prevent the re-victimization of the young people who were traumatized by the events of April 15, 2014. They continue to relive every detail of that night, and the last thing any of us need at this time is additional anguish and sorrow.
The families are well aware of the important role the media plays in informing the public, including helping the Calgary Police Service appeal for witnesses and information pertaining to certain crimes. In this case, however, that assistance is not required and while we understand the details of the case will be made public at trial, we struggle with the need to obtain the information earlier.
We, the five families of the victims, oppose the release of the information and we ask for your sympathy and understanding at this time. Please, Calgary media, consider discontinuing your efforts to obtain these details.
We choose to celebrate how they lived, as opposed to glorify how they died. We implore you to do the same.
In the meantime, we are using our voice on social media to create awareness about our concerns. We feel we need to do this for our kids and their friends, and to protect the families that have been left behind.
Thank you for your consideration. We ask that you publicize this letter in its entirety.
The Hong Family
The Perras Family
The Rathwell Family
The Segura Family
The Hunter Family
© 2014 Shaw Media