Finally a reason to celebrate progress in Canadian Justice.
Multiple murderer Travis Baumgartner (22) was sentenced to forty (40) years in Federal Prison last week for the horrific execution style killings of three (3) armoured car guards in Edmonton, Alberta in June of 2012. The sentence is being lauded as the harshest penalty handed down by Canadian Justice since 1962, the year Arthur Lucas was executed for killing a Police informant.
Chief Justice John Rooke categorized the crime as “unspeakable, outrageous, cowardly and cold-blooded.”
“These are absolutely some of the most horrendous crimes that anyone can imagine,” Rooke said last Wednesday. “It’s hard to put into words the revulsion of society, of this court, of the public.” “These assassinations and executions were carried out by a cold-blooded killer, all with the simple motive of robbery.”
Rooke indicated Baumgartner showed “absolutely no compassion for life,” and executed the guards in cold blood. Three of the guards were shot in the back of the head at point-blank range, the fourth was “ambushed, taken by surprise with no chance.”
On June 15, 2012 Baumgartner was employed by security company G4S and was working an armoured car route replenishing ATMs. Upon arrival to the University of Alberta, Baumgartner and three of his co-workers entered the HUB mall and started work on servicing ATMs at a TD bank. As his co-workers crouched down to refill the machines, Baumgartner pulled his .38 calibre revolver and started shooting.
Co-workers Michelle Shegelski (26), Brian Llesic (35) and Matthew Schuman (26) were all shot in the head at point-blank range. After emptying his gun, Baumgartner reloaded, returned to the armoured car, and executed guard Eddie Rejano (39) who he shot in the head three (3) times.
Shegelski, Llesic & Rejano succumbed to their injuries while Schuman miraculously survived.
The motive for the crime was simple, greed. Baumgartner, the under-achiever, had twenty-six (26) cents in his bank account at the time of the incident and had debts totalling over fifty-eight ($58,000) thousand dollars.
After fleeing from the crime scene, Baumgartner was arrested at a border crossing station at the Port of Lyndon near Langley, BC. At the time of his arrest, he was attempting to enter the United States while he was in possession of $333,580.00. in cash and remarkably, no passport. He subsequently plead guilty to two (2) counts of second degree murder (Shegelski & Llesic), one count of first degree murder (Rejano) and one count of attempt murder (Schuman).
Fortunately, on December 2, 2011, the Protecting Canadians by Ending Multiple Murders Act was passed and came into effect. The change in law meant that a mechanism existed for Judges to ensure multiple murderers like Baumgartner would be eligible to receive consecutive periods of parole ineligibility for their heinous crimes.
Although I celebrate the forty (40) year sentence I am struck by the stark reality that Travis Baumgartner will be a mere sixty-two (62) years of age when he’ll be eligible to be released from prison. Once released, he will only have to wait a few short years before he can start collecting his old age pension cheques.
If I had sat on that bench, I can tell you without hesitation I would’ve had no problem sentencing Baumgartner to a seventy-five (75) year period of parole ineligibility. That would make him ninety-seven (97) years of age when he’d be eligible to be released from prison. A number that seems more appropriate to me when you consider the decades of precious life he stole from the victims of his horrendous crime.
Canadian Judges could learn much about sentencing from their American counterparts, one of whom recently sentenced reputed kidnapper and sex offender Ariel Castro to a life sentence with no chance of parole for 1,000 years.
The Protecting Canadians by Ending Multiple Murders Act gives Canadian Judges unprecedented power and authority to protect the Canadian public. The sooner they get comfortable using that power, the better for all of us.
It’s long past time that killers like Baumgartner received the kind of sentences they truly deserve.
“The dead cannot cry out for Justice. It is the duty of the living to do so for them.” (Lois McMaster Bujold)