Standing in the witness box in a crowded Calgary courtroom Noah Lush, 13, faced one of his father's murderers as his victim impact statement was read aloud by his mother.
"I hate you with everything I have and I hope you spend the rest of your life thinking about what you have done to me and my family," wrote Noah to Kristopher Goerzen, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday.
Noah's father, Nick Lush, was beaten to death by two men — one he considered a close friend — on March 29, 2015. His body, stripped naked but for socks and underwear, was found eight days later near Longview, Alta., in a creek bed.
"My dad was my very best friend," said Noah. "My dad was my hero."
Bauer led police to the body
Goerzen and Cody Bauer were initially charged with first-degree murder. Both pleaded guilty to second-degree murder — Goerzen on Monday, Bauer in January.
Goerzen's plea was arranged by Crown prosecutors Britta Kristensen and Elisa Frank and defence lawyer Andre Ouellette.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Karen Horner called Lush's death a "tragic, unnecessary" murder and sentenced Goerzen to life in prison with no chance of parole for 16 years.
Bauer was given a life sentence with no chance of parole for 15 years.
After his arrest, Bauer helped lead police to Lush's body. Goerzen was less cooperative.
Cocaine and alcohol fuelled fight
Bauer and Goerzen picked Lush up around 8:00 p.m. on March 28, 2015 and partied for the next 12 hours in Springbank, Alta.
The three were fuelled by alcohol and cocaine when they began to fight and were asked to leave the party, according to an agreed statement of facts.
They left the house party and began driving but Lush threatened his friends and, once the car was pulled over, pulled a knife on them. Goerzen then attacked Lush with a baseball bat.
Both Bauer and Goerzen continued the attack on Lush once he was on the ground, stomping on his head and beating him with the bat.
They threw Lush in the trunk of the car with the intention of dropping him off just outside the city limits, but when they opened the trunk, they found him conscious and agitated.
Lush left alive in creek bed
Each armed with a bat, the pair attacked Lush again to "finish him off" until he went limp.
For the next five hours, Bauer and Goerzen drove around trying to decide where to dispose of their friend.
Just east of Longview, Goerzen and Bauer left Lush — who was still breathing but badly injured — in a creek bed.
They bought cleaning supplies at a Canadian Tire, burned their clothing and bats and then bleached the vehicle.
Goerzen and Bauer then called a lawyer and fled to Vancouver's Downtown Eastside until RCMP tracked the pair down.
'Every single day is a struggle'
Lush's friends and family searched for him over next week until RCMP arrived to tell his wife his body had been found.
"It was like the world went silent," Denise Lush wrote in her victim impact statement. "My heart sank to my stomach and I knew my world would never be the same."
Denise said it's her children's pain that hurts her the most.
"The pain in their eyes will stay with me forever ... every single day is a struggle."
"I'm left to do it all alone."
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