UPDATE: Baumgartner sentenced to life in prison, not eligible for parole for 40 years
Watch: Global National’s Francis Silvaggio Travis Baumgartner gets an unprecedented prison sentence for the murder of 3 armoured car guards.
EDMONTON – Justice John Rooke accepted the joint submission from the Crown and Defence early Wednesday afternoon, and sentenced Travis Baumgartner to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 40 years.
“This is the harshest sentence in Canada since the last execution in 1962,” said Chief Crown Prosecutor Steven Bilodeau after the sentencing submission on Monday.
“The message that parliament sent unanimously to the courts has obviously been received loud and clear: that murderers who kill more than one people should be punished more. Travis Baumgartner is more guilty, and that is reflected in the sentence that he will be serving for the horrors that he committed in our city,” added Bilodeau on Wednesday.
Twenty-two-year-old Baumgartner, the man convicted of killing three of his co-workers and injuring a fourth during a robbery at the University of Alberta’s HUB mall, was originally charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and four counts of robbery with a firearm.
On Monday, Baumgartner pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Eddie Rejano, two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Brian Ilesic and Michelle Shegelski, and guilty of one count of attempted murder in the shooting of Matthew Schuman.
For the families of the victims, Wednesday’s sentencing was bitter-sweet.
“I believe Justice Rooke did the best he could given our legal system. This is probably one of the better sentences we’ve ever had in Canada considering that the death penalty is out now,” said Victor Shegelski, Michelle’s young widower. “But, my wife is still dead.”
“It’s the system,” explained Joseph Rejano, Eddie’s brother. “You can call it justice.”
“Today was, I guess, a victory for everybody. We got some closure at least for the boys,” he added, hugging one of Eddie’s young sons close to him.
“They’re growing up without their father,” Joseph said, his voice cracking. “You can’t explain that to a child… you just have to help them.”
Janet Stosky, Brian’s aunt, spoke on behalf of the Illesic family. She shared how difficult the last year and a half has been.
“These last few days have been tough as well. Sitting in the courtroom with Travis was extremely difficult. I think that all of the families showed enormous restraint and respect, and honoured our loved ones that we lost.”
She said the joint submission gave the family some hope that multiple victims will be honoured within the justice system.
“I’m not sure, when you’re going through this level of pain, you can ever feel satisfied with the justice that’s available, but I do believe they worked very hard for us and I think… we’ve been honoured today.”
John Ernst, Michelle’s uncle said there was some relief in the sentencing.
“There’s satisfaction for us knowing that every victim that he took, he’s had some time added onto his sentence… I think it’s very important for the families.”
– For the murder of Brian Ilesic (to which Baumgartner pleaded guilty in the second-degree), a life sentence with parole ineligibility for 15 years, to be served consecutively was submitted.
– For the murder of Eddie Rejano (to which Baumgartner pleaded guilty in the first-degree), a life sentence with parole ineligibility for 25 years, to be served consecutively was submitted.
– For the murder of Michelle Shegelski (to which Baumgartner pleaded guilty in the second-degree), a life sentence with parole ineligibility for 15 years, to be served concurrently was submitted.
– For the attempted murder of Matthew Schuman (to which Baumgartner pleaded guilty), a life sentence with parole ineligibility for 10 years, to be served concurrently was submitted.
The total global sentence amounts to life imprisonment with parole ineligibility for 40 years.
“Assuming Travis Baumgartner survives 40 years in prison, he could appeal to the Parole Board in 2052,” explained Bilodeau. Baumgartner would be 61-years-old.
“Just because you’re eligible, doesn’t mean you get it,” noted Defence lawyer Peter Royal. “No Parole Board is going to look on him favourably.”
For most of the court proceedings, Baumgarter – dressed in a dark suit – sat with his arms crossed, slouched often, and closed his eyes for extended periods of time. His demeanour did not surprise the victims’ families.
“We expected that,” said Joseph. “We expected him to be there and just put his head down and not look at anybody because that’s who he is. He came from behind and did what he had to do from the back because he’s a coward.”
Many family members shared how hard it was being in the same room as the man responsible for taking their loved ones from them.
“He’s a pretty pathetic specimen,” said Victor, “sad excuse for a human.”
“Looking at him you can kind of understand why he went and did everything behind everyone’s back like that, didn’t even give them a chance. It’s just disgusting.”
“I think we were all pretty restrained,” added John. “I think we were focused on our grief and our situation. Travis has done what he’s done and he has to live with that.”
John said what’s next for the families is to try to focus on healing, one day at a time.
“I think it’s going to take a long, long time for that pain to ease just a little bit. It’s never going to go away.”
The repercussions of this crime affected so many people, said John. The murder of Michelle, Eddie and Brian, and the life-changing injury of Matthew left many victims behind. Now, the families are sharing their memories of their loved ones to honour them.
“Ed was a big part of our lives,” shared Joseph. “Ed took care of us. He was my dad.”
He said he sees Eddie in the two boys all the time.
“Every day,” he shared, his voice breaking, “every day.”
“Brian was a young man who was blooming in his life,” said Janet. “He was proud to serve the public, and he was a wonderful son and a wonderful father… he was special… we all learned from Brian.”
When asked about Michelle, John responds with a smile.
“She was a young girl who was so full of life… she was just a wonderful, witty person, and she had so much ahead of her.”
Reading from a prepared statement, John paused and shared this thought:
“We need to learn to live more consciously; stop and see that the person standing next to us has many issues – as we do – and take a breath before reacting.”
You can read the full Agreed Statement of Facts of the historic case below: