Outpouring of grief at Denecho King sentencing hearing

Jack Wifladt says he asks God why his son was taken away from him.

"God does not answer," he told a Yellowknife courtroom full of John Wifladt's family, lawyers and Denecho King, the man convicted of killing John in 2014.

Richard Gleeson/CBC

King's sentencing hearing began Friday morning in N.W.T. Supreme Court with victim impact statements. King is being sentenced for second-degree murder and aggravated assault.

The conviction carries an automatic life sentence, and so the sentencing will determine when King is first eligible for parole. The Crown is seeking 17 years, calling King's attack "violence for the sake of violence," while the defence is seeking between the minimum, between 10 and 12 years.

Defence lawyer Jay Bran said that while growing up, King had to use violence to survive and protect his mother, saying that King's childhood was characterized by neglect and abuse.

King himself had the last word, asking the judge for the minimum 10 years before parole eligibility. During his testimony, King said that he just wants the sentencing to be done so he can be sent to a Southern penitentiary where he can get help and support.

The four-week trial in April uncovered no motive for King's attack on Colin Digness and John Wifladt in a Yellowknife apartment four years ago.

'I hope he never gets out'

Jack remembered John as a kind, generous man who never spoke ill of others. He loved music, and would play the Rolling Stones and Metallica on his guitar. He travelled widely, to Europe, Brazil and Jamaica.

He was a helpful son, too. He chopped and piled wood for his parents and helped tan hides. He wanted to learn beading and sewing.

John's mother, Alice, had Crown prosecutor Alex Godfrey read her victim impact statement.

In it, she refers to King as "this evil person."

"I don't know what [King] was looking for," she wrote.

"It doesn't matter how you're brought up, it's how you live … it's like he has no heart … I hope he never gets out."

As the victim impact statements were read, King sat next to his lawyer, staring straight ahead.

In the front row of the courtroom, John's parents and sister wiped away tears and hugged each other.

Justice Andrew Mahar said he will deliver King's sentence on Nov. 26.

With files from Richard Gleeson