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Grisly murder of young Camrose mother nets three-year youth sentence for 20-year-old

Grisly murder of young Camrose mother nets three-year youth sentence for 20-year-old
A 20-year old man is behind bars for his role in the death of a young Camrose mother. The man confessed to police, pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Nancy Carlson has the details.

WARNING: Some of the details in this story may be disturbing to some readers.

A judge has sentenced a 20-year-old man to three years’ custody for his part in the savage beating and suffocation of a young Camrose mother in 2015.

The body of Mackenzie Harris, 22, was found in the woods near Calmar, Alta., on Aug. 3, 2015. She had been reported missing two days earlier by a friend after Harris left cryptic text messages begging for help.

Three adults and a youth were arrested in March 2016 for the crime. In a written decision issued June 19, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Wayne Renke said Harris had threatened to report the group to police for drug trafficking and they came after her.

“Imagine [her] circumstances,” Renke wrote, “literally running for her life, trying to reach out to people that didn’t know, didn’t get the message, people who couldn’t help her. Imagine her fear. Then she’s set upon by three males. They beat her. They beat her with fists, they kicked her. A heavy object, possibly a log, possibly some other wooden item, was used as a weapon.
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“She was left there. She was alive when they left. She didn’t move or she didn’t move much. They came back and they got her, put a plastic bag over her face, put her in the car and she died. Death must have been a release.”

READ MORE: ‘Someone please help’: Woman found dead in Calmar leaves disturbing message

The youngest suspect, known only as R.T.J. because he was 17 at the time of the killing, confessed to police, aided in their investigation and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Describing the facts of the case as “horrific,” Renke sentenced the now 20-year-old to three years in custody followed by two years of community supervision.

The judge gave him eight months credit for time served.

According to an agreed statement of facts, on the evening of July 31, 2015, Harris had been using drugs along with R.T.J. and two other men at a house. Harris was involved in “several altercations” before she was asked to leave, at which point she threatened to go to police to report the men for drug trafficking.

RCMP identified the remains found in Calmar as those of Camrose woman, 22-year-old Mackenzie Leah Harris.
RCMP identified the remains found in Calmar as those of Camrose woman, 22-year-old Mackenzie Leah Harris. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

The Crown did not apply to have R.T.J., who has been diagnosed with partial fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, sentenced as an adult. The judge noted R.T.J.’s remorse in his decision.

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Harris is survived by a son who is now six.

Kyle Scott of Leduc, Dylan Bakke of Red Deer and Christopher Stein of Millet were also charged with second-degree murder in Harris’s death.

Bakke was sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter and one year (to be served consecutively) for committing an indignity to a dead body, less time served.

Stein’s trial is scheduled for Feb. 25 to March 15, 2019 in Wetaskiwin.

As of June 2018, Scott was still awaiting trial.