WARNING: This story contains graphic content. Discretion is advised.
A Calgary judge has reserved their decision in the sentencing of triple-murderer Dustin Duthie — who admitted to killing his girlfriend, mother and stepfather in 2018 — following a day of emotional victim impact statements during a sentencing hearing.
Earlier this month, Duthie, 27, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder in the death of his step-father Alan Pennylegion and two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his girlfriend Taylor Toller and mother Shawn Boshuck.
Their bodies were found at two separate residences on July 31, 2018.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Duthie slit 24-year-old Toller’s throat in her Applewood Park condo days earlier on July 26.
Duthie then stabbed Boshuck and Pennylegion to death in their Hidden Valley home, where he also lived, on July 31.
Duthie was deemed fit to stand trial in August 2018.
'Was she scared?': Court hears victim impact statements
On Friday, court heard victim impact statements from family members, many of whom openly wept while speaking.
Joanne Toller, Taylor Toller’s mother, said a piece of her will always be broken.
“This I cannot explain in words,” she said. “We will never again have her here with us enjoying her smile, her stories or her love.”
She also shared her sadness at not ever being able to support Taylor through motherhood.
Toller’s aunt Kim Toller also spoke, saying she wondered what the 24-year-old was thinking in her final moments.
“Was she scared? Did she try to call out for any of us? Did she want her mom?…How betrayed she must have felt,” Kim said.
“You have not broken us if that was your goal,” she added. “We have only grown closer together because that is who we are.”
Several of Alan Pennylegion’s and Shawn Boshuck’s children read statements.
Adam Pennylegion, Alan’s son, said the murders have forever changed his life.
“You broke thousands of hearts and destroyed communities,” he said to Duthie, who sobbed at times.
Alan’s other son David Pennylegion said it makes him sad his parents won’t be around to be proud of his accomplishments.
Alan and Shawn’s son Jordyn Pennylegion, meanwhile, said he finds it hard to go to bed at night because he has a “bottomless pit” in his heart.
“(Duthie’s) decision to take my parents has caused an everlasting wake of emotional turmoil.”
Boshuck’s mother Dorothy Boshuck said she has been “utterly devastated” by the deaths.
“I choose not to waste my time and energy on the defendant and his despicable behavior,” she added.
In Canada, first-degree murder convictions carry an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, while second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years.
Under the Criminal Code, people convicted of multiple murders can be ordered to serve their sentences consecutively instead of concurrently.
The prosecution is seeking parole ineligibility of 35 years while the defence argued for 25 years.
A decision is expected on April 8.
Taylor Toller’s death
According to an agreed statement of facts, Duthie and Toller had been in a relationship for some five years, at times living together and even discussing marriage.
The day before Toller was killed, Duthie had pulled a knife on her and taken her cellphone.
Video footage from inside her condo building showed Toller walking down the hall crying after the incident, at 12:42 a.m. on July 25.
On July 26, Toller and Duthie were seen coming and going from her condo four times between midnight and 4 a.m.
Duthie left the condo alone just after 5 a.m. with a black bag and a bed-in-a-box he pulled behind him.
When police entered Toller’s condo on July 31, they found her lying face down in her bed, naked and tucked in “as if she was asleep.”
The wound to her neck had severed her jugular, causing her death.
Police later found a blood-stained towel in the bed-in-a-box in the trunk of Duthie’s car with Toller’s DNA on it.
The deaths of Shawn Boshuck and Alan Pennylegion
Shawn Boshuck was 52 when Duthie stabbed her to death.
According to the agreed statement of facts, Duthie attacked her by the back door of her home by the kitchen table just before 6 a.m. on July 31.
Boshuck was stabbed six times. Duthie then dragged her across the room and covered her with a plastic sheet.
Duthie had also stabbed one of his own pit bulls, which was found locked in Boshuck’s vehicle that was parked in the garage. The dog required surgery but survived.
Pennylegion was 51 when he was killed.
The agreed statement of facts indicated he was stabbed by Duthie eight times after coming downstairs and finding Duthie cleaning up blood from his mother’s attack.
Duthie had threatened violence against Pennylegion through the years and they had a tense relationship.
Pennylegion was found in the main floor bathroom along with his dog, who had also been stabbed and later died.
After the killings, Duthie shaved his head, showered and changed his clothes.
He left in Pennylegion’s car and stopped to buy alcohol at a liquor store in Applewood Park.
At around 10:50 a.m. on July 31, Duthie called 911 and confessed to the killings.
During his interrogation, he admitted he was contemplating death by cop.
Police seized a black bag belonging to Duthie that had a six-inch-long knife in it with white hockey tape on the handle. The blood on the knife was a DNA match to Pennylegion.
– With files from Jenna Freeman