Charlotte Lafferty’s killer will not serve life sentence in the North, judge rules – North

Charlotte Lafferty’s murderer will serve his time in the federal prison system.

Keenan McNeely, now 21, received a life sentence in April for the brutal sexual assault and murder of Charlotte Lafferty in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., in 2014. He has since filed an appeal of the conviction and sentencing.

Lafferty was 23 at the time, and the mother of three boys.

In a placement hearing at the end of August, McNeely’s lawyer made the case that McNeely should serve his life sentence in a Northern facility.

In court on Tuesday, Justice Louise Charbonneau, said this was a very unusual request — she said it was the first hearing of its kind in the Northwest Territories, and she had no precedent to work with.

Normally, a life sentence would be served at a federal facility. There are no federal facilities in the territories, meaning that McNeely would need to be transferred to a southern penitentiary.

Charlotte Lafferty, a Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., mother of three, was murdered in 2014. Today the court decided her killer would serve his time away from the North in the federal prison system. (Submitted by Louisa Lafferty)

But McNeely’s lawyer had argued McNeely’s rehabilitation would be better served if he stayed in the North, closer to home, family and culture.

The judge did not discount the potential value of McNeely staying in the North, but she said McNeely needs the kind of intense, long-term and consistent psychological treatment only available in the federal system.

During the placement hearing in August, the court heard from the warden of the North Slave Correctional Centre in Yellowknife that the jail system in the North is designed for sentences of two years less a day, not a life sentence with a ten year minimum.

Keenan McNeely is led out of the Yellowknife courthouse to a waiting police van after learning he will serve his life sentence in the federal prison system. (Walter Strong/CBC )

‘Profoundly disturbing’ circumstances

The judge said one of the principal concerns in making her placement decision was McNeely’s rehabilitation and how, in the long-term, it would best protect the public when he is eventually released.

Rehabilitation is the ultimate goal of the criminal justice system, Charbonneau said.

She said her decision between placement in a Northern facility or the federal system was in part guided by the question, “which system offers the best options and prospects to address the underlying conditions of…

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