Christina Asp has been sentenced to 15 years in prison without parole for the second-degree murder of Gordon Seybold.
In his sentencing on Friday afternoon, Judge Leigh Gower said he chose the middle ground between recommendations put forward by prosecutors and defence counsel.
Gower found that Asp, 34, showed a manipulative and dishonest character, and that her crime was “egregious and brutal.”
However, he also pointed to her previous success with treatment and programming as evidence that she could make positive changes in her life.
“I am unable to conclude that she is a lost cause,” said Gower. He wished her well on her efforts towards rehabilitation.
If she is ever released, Asp will remain under the supervision of parole officers for the rest of her life.
In June, a jury found Asp guilty of killing Seybold, whose charred body was found in what was left of his torched Ibex Valley home in 2008.
Asp drove out to the property that day with her boyfriend, Norman Larue. Seybold was brutally beaten and then his house was set on fire.
Second-degree murder comes with an automatic sentence of life in prison. However, the judge had some discretion in determining how long until she is eligible for parole. That length of time could have been anywhere from 10 to 25 years.
The Crown wanted Asp to be ineligible for parole for between 16 and 18 years. Asp’s lawyer, meanwhile, wanted her to be eligible for parole after serving 12 years in prison.
On Wednesday, prosecutor Bonnie Macdonald made her case that Asp was manipulative and unable to resist a lifestyle of alcohol and violence.
After finding Asp guilty in June, jurors were asked to each make a recommendation as to how long Asp should be in jail before being eligible for parole.
All but two of the jurors suggested that Asp should serve more than the minimum 10 years before being eligible for parole, and six agreed that she should serve 16 years.
One juror recommended the minimum 10 years, and one abstained from choosing. The most recommended by any one juror was 20 years without chance of parole.
The jurors did not know at the time they made those recommendations that Asp was on parole for the manslaughter of her former partner Keith Blanchard at the time of Seybold’s death, said Macdonald.
They knew she was on parole for a crime for which she did time in a federal penitentiary, but were not told the nature of the crime.
Asp lied to corrections officers about a boyfriend, saying that he was her fiance so that he would be able to visit her while she was in jail, said Macdonald.
While in custody at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, she “corrupted” one of the guards, manipulating him so that he would get her contraband items that she could then traffic through the jail, said Macdonald.
She later bragged about using him to get what she wanted, although when confronted about the relationship at the time she described herself to officials as “at his mercy,” the prosecutor said.
The corrections officer was eventually fired for the transgression.
While Asp showed some success in rehabilitation programs, time and time again she breached bail conditions, went AWOL, and slipped back into her violent lifestyle, said Macdonald.
The most serious example of this, of course, is that both Asp and her boyfriend Norman Larue were on parole and on the run at the time of Gordon Seybold’s death.
Larue has also been charged with Seybold’s murder, and will stand trial some time next year.
Macdonald listed nine incidents where Asp had broken rules while in custody at the Whitehorse jail. They included threatening, throwing a water bottle at, and getting in a fight with other inmates.
She was also caught with morphine pills and tobacco.
Asp’s lawyer, Ken Tessovitch, made his submissions Thursday.
He told Justice Leigh Gower not to put too much weight on the evidence brought forward by the Crown.
Asp has slipped up many times, Tessovitch admitted, but her overall record shows a willingness to participate in programs and rehabilitate herself.
The charges against Asp while she was in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre are insignificant in the context of about 1,000 days spent in custody, he said.
All of the infractions occurred in the old jail, where female inmates lived in dormitories and therefore were highly likely to come into conflict with each other, said Tessovitch.
Asp’s traumatic early years explain why she has made so many mistakes, but she is trying to do better, he said.
As to the corruption of a male officer while in jail, “blame the guard,” argued Tessovitch.
He is the one with all the power in that situation. Inmates, by definition, have very little freedom, he said.
The situation is further evidence that Asp, throughout her life, has continually been used by men.
“That’s what being a prostitute on the street at 12 years old was all about,” said Tessovitch.
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