Life sentence for Christmas Day killer who beat teen to death in drug robbery

Life sentence for Christmas Day killer who beat teen to death in drug robbery

The Calgary drug user who beat a teenager to death on Christmas Day was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 13 years. 

That was the sentence imposed by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Scott Brooker on Friday after Terry Wingert, 50, was convicted of second-degree murder last month.

Anthony Fernandez, 19, was lured to an alley in the northeast community of Bridgeland by Wingert and another man, who has never been charged.

Fernandez was beaten to death in his car, which was then set on fire. 

Brooker described the murder as a "violent killing of a helpless young man," noting Fernandez's "involvement in the drug world was somewhat of an aberration."

But the judge was also sympathetic to Wingert.

"You're not the same man today that you were at the time of the murder," said Brooker, who noted Winger's genuine remorse. "You have the potential for rehabilitation."

In 2013, Wingert and his friend were on a drug-fuelled bender on Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day but had run out of money, so they arranged to meet Fernandez with the plan to rob him. The pair then worried Fernandez would be able to identify them to his supplier, who might come after them. 

Fernandez's body was found in his burned-out Mazda 6 two days after Christmas. He had been beaten to death after his killers were unsuccessful in strangling him with an electrical cord.

It was nearly two years after Fernandez's murder when Wingert was arrested and charged. 

In the meantime, police had set up an undercover operation designed to elicit a confession out of the suspected killer. 

In the spring and summer of 2015, Calgary officers posed as petty criminals and befriended Wingert.

Eventually, Wingert confessed "the biggest secret he had" and admitted to killing Fernandez. 

A second-degree murder conviction comes with an automatic life sentence. Prosecutors Pam McCluskey and Ryan Jenkins asked the judge to impose a 17- to 20-year parole ineligibility.

Wingert's lawyers Karen Molle and Kelsey Sitar argued Wingert should be allowed to apply for parole after serving 10 years.

During sentencing arguments last month, Wingert addressed his victim's mother and offered an apology.

"Every day I am haunted by this memory," he told Daisy Fernandez. "I never thought drugs would take such a big toll on my life and impact so many other lives as well ... I am so sorry for your loss."