Victims devastated after new trial ordered for man convicted of killing Calgary student Brett Wiese
The victim’s family is devastated by the news and is dreading going through the difficult court process all over again.
“It’s shocking,” Brett’s mother Brenda Wiese told Global News. “It’s something I don’t think we can get our head around or reconcile; it just doesn’t make sense.”
Wiese, 20, died after being stabbed in the back at a house party in Brentwood in January 2013.
Harkes was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years in October 2015.
A written ruling released Wednesday morning reads: “We allow the appeal with respect to the conviction for second-degree murder and return the matter for a new trial on that charge only.”
Harkes’ original defence lawyer confirmed he will once again represent him in the new trial.
Balfour Der said he was relieved by the appeal court ruling.
“Clearly, Mr. Harkes and his group should never have been in the house and they were wrong to be there,” he said. “But that did not make him guilty of murder.”
Watch below from May 2015: A teenager who murdered a promising young University of Calgary student has been sentenced to life in prison. Jill Croteau reports.
At the trial, Harkes admitted he stabbed both Wiese and Wiese’s friend Colton Lewis.
Harkes was also found guilty of attempted murder for stabbing Lewis, and that conviction stands. But the impact of the latest ruling is having a huge impact on Lewis’ life.
“Knowing I’m going to have to stand on the stand again, it makes me incredibly anxious,” Lewis said Wednesday. “To know that all of my best friends are going to have to go through all the same thing… and I’ll be sitting there watching them have to go through it; it’s entirely agonizing.”
Both victims were guests at a house party when some uninvited people crashed the party. They were kicked out, but later returned with a larger group, including Harkes.
Harkes went into the basement and assaulted Wiese and Lewis. Court previously heard the attack was unprovoked.
A young offender was also convicted of murder in the case.
“It never feels like justice will be served,” Lewis said. “There’s no way of bringing Brett back to life and as far as I’m concerned, not having Brett here, we are definitely the people serving the life sentence. We will always live with this.”
Wiese, a self described “mama’s boy” was originally from Ponoka and was taking his bachelor of commerce at the U of C when he was killed.
The Wiese family, along with Lewis and Brett’s other surviving friends, are all coping by focusing their energy on their loved one’s legacy.
There’s a scholarship fund in Brett’s name, along with an annual golf tournament.
“The good days are the days where I have no thoughts of the people responsible for his death or the trauma they created,” Brenda Wiese said.
He’s remembered for his kind and loving spirit, someone who always put family and friends first.
A new trial date has yet to be set.
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