Triple-murderer Derek Saretzky appeals conviction and sentence
WARNING: This story contains violent, graphic content. Discretion is advised.
Triple-murderer Derek Saretzky is appealing his conviction and sentence.
Global News has confirmed Saretzky, 24, requested high-profile criminal lawyer Balfour Der to file a notice of appeal on his behalf.
In August, Saretzky was sentenced to an automatic life sentence and was handed three consecutive parole ineligibilities — meaning he is not eligible for parole for at least 75 years.
In June, he was convicted by a jury of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, her father Terry Blanchette, 27, and 69-year-old Hanne Meketech in Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass. He was also found guilty of causing an indignity to Hailey’s body and was sentenced to five years to be served concurrently.
Saretzky would be 97 years old when eligible to apply for release.
“Justice has been served and I hope the appeal process is as quick and painless as possible,” Amanda Blanchette, Terry’s sister, told Global News.
“My thoughts and prayers are with our family, as well as the Dunbar family, and of course, the Saretzky family.”
Watch: Nancy Hixt has the details on Derek Saretzky’s sentence.
In the appeal of the convictions filed Thursday afternoon, Der cites several grounds, including the admissibility of some evidence — referring directly to the confessional videos and similar-fact evidence presented in court.
During the trial, the Crown pointed at four similarities in the deaths of Blanchette and Meketech, including a white van seen on CCTV near both scenes, similar injuries — including blunt force and sharp-force injuries — and the fact both murders happened at night.
Three video-taped confessions were played in court, including one in which Saretzky took investigators to the scene of the crime and re-enacted what happened to Hailey at a rural campsite.
Watch below: First of 3 Derek Saretzky video confessions played at triple-murder trial
In the video, Saretzky is seen telling officers how he killed, dismembered, cannibalized and burned Hailey’s body.
Der also cites several grounds for appeal of the sentence, calling it “cruel and unusual punishment.” He said the consecutive parole ineligibilities adding up to 75 years are “unreasonable.”
“It gives this person no hope whatsoever, no reason to reform themselves, no reason to rehabilitate themselves,” Der said.
“I expect the guards in jail don’t want that type of prisoner, because they have nothing to live for.”
In passing the maximum sentence possible, Justice William Tilleman told the court: “I am satisfied he is dangerous.”
Tilleman went through the graphic details of the case and there were tears in the courtroom as he spoke about the impact of Saretzky’s crimes.
“The entire area of the Crowsnest Pass was on edge,” Tilleman said of the case. “It chilled us all.”
He noted Hailey’s mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, has been “consumed by sadness and heartbreak.”
Many of the victims’ family members expressed sympathy towards Saretzky’s parents and Tilleman commended their compassion.
Tilleman noted the fact he dismembered and cannibalized the girl was “a selfish and disturbing act.”
Tilleman said at the time that the chapter has now closed, adding Saretzky will never be free.
Global News has confirmed Saretzky has been moved from the remand centre in Calgary to a federal institution outside of Alberta.
“I’ve spoken to Mr. Saretzky a couple of times since he was sentenced,” Der said. “And I suppose, under the circumstances, we could say he’s doing as well as he could.”
Der confirmed Saretzky has not fallen victim to any assaults since being moved to prison.
“I’m sure the prison authorities will realize his was a high-profile case that makes him a target, and that they will be diligent and vigilant to make sure he’s protected while in custody,” he said.
Der said he will now order a transcript of the trial, then submit written arguments to the Alberta Court of Appeal.
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