Convicted murderer Denecho King has been sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for at least 12 years.
That’s the punishment the 26-year-old Yellowknife man received in court Monday afternoon for killing John Wifladt with a sword in a Yellowknife apartment in December of 2014.
King could have received as little as ten years without parole eligibility or as much as 25 years.
Wifladt’s family was not happy with the decision, saying afterwards they felt he should have received a harsher sentence.
Patriarch Jack Wifladt, John’s father, spoke to reporters on behalf of the family out front of the courthouse following the decision.
“It does bring closure but it’s not the kind of closure we wanted. It’s the judge’s call and like it or not we’ll live with it,” Wifladt said. “No I’m not (bitterly disappointed). He is behind bars. Now he’s going to have to prove himself.”
Wifladt added the sentence was not going over well with his eldest daughter as well as John’s mother.
King’s lawyer says the option to appeal the conviction and the sentence is ultimately up to his client.
Jay Bran said it was unlikely that he would represent King if he does in fact decide to appeal.
Judge Andrew Mahar said he could not give King the minimum sentence because he was on probation at the time of the murder and due to his lengthy criminal record – 38 offences including ten convictions involving violence.
Mahar said he did take into account King’s status as an Indigenous offender and his extremely troubling upbringing as he must according to a Supreme Court of Canada mandate.
Mahar said we may never know what caused the attack inside the apartment of Wifladt’s friend Colin Digness that night, but that he was satisfied that there was a dispute of some sort that led to Wifladt’s mortal wounding, and the attack on Digness as well.
King was also handed a ten year sentence for the attack on Digness, also with a sword, but that sentence will run concurrently, at the same time as the murder sentence.
The courtroom was packed for the decision.
Members of the public had to pass through a metal detector before being let inside the courtroom while several RCMP officers and court security kept a close eye on King.
Wifladt’s family and friends were in the courtroom for the decision while King’s mother and a small group of supporters including another son were also present.
King, dressed in a shirt and tie, showed no emotion when he received the sentence – some members of Wifladt’s family sobbed.
King will now be transferred to a southern Federal institution to begin serving his sentence.
He made headlines in 2016 when he made a daylight escape from the North Slave Correctional Complex (NSCC).
He was found at his mother’s home about three days later.