SURREY, B.C. - The name of a young man who was sentenced as an adult for bludgeoning a 15-year-old girl to death in a suburban park near Vancouver is no longer covered by a publication ban.
Twenty-one-year-old Wyatt DeBruin pleaded guilty to killing Laura Szendrei in a park in Delta, south of Vancouver, in September 2010.
He was sentenced last fall to life in prison for his crime, as a judge condemned him for not only devastating Szendrei's family and friends, but also striking "enduring fear into the heart of every Delta parent."
DeBruin was just days short of his 18th birthday at the time of the killing, meaning his name was covered by a publication ban as a young offender.
An adult sentence would usually lift such a ban, but his lawyer applied for an extension.
On Thursday, the restriction was lifted, though a publication ban remains in place on photos of the young man, his lawyer, Donna Turko, confirmed.
Turko said keeping DeBruin's picture out of the media would ensure he is safe in prison while helping him move on with his life.
"For his ability to access programming, to try to improve his mental status and state, his understanding of the offence, it will be much easier in the system to get him that help without the worry of a constant threat," she said an interview.
Turko said it was difficult to predict whether the publication of DeBruin's name would affect his chances of rehabilitation, acknowledging that his name has already been out on the Internet for some time.
"(Correctional Services Canada) will have to sort out where they put him," she said.
"They have a lot of options, potentially, so it will be up to the intelligence of corrections to make sure they've got him somewhere that allows for his rehabilitation and his safety at the same time."
DeBruin was sentenced last year to life with no parole for at least seven years, but his parole eligibility was reduced by the two years and eight months he had already spent in custody.
Szendrei was walking through Delta's popular Mackie Park to meet some friends on Sept. 25, 2010 when she was attacked. Her friends heard her scream and rushed to her side.
They found Szendrei beaten so severely that she died the following morning in hospital.
DeBruin was arrested five months later, after an undercover operation ended with him confessing his crime.
During his sentencing hearing, the court heard DeBruin left home on the morning of the murder, carrying plastic cable ties and a metal pipe. His plan was to find someone to rape, though he had no particular victim in mind. Szendrei just happened to be the first person he ran into who was by herself.
The court heard DeBruin asked Szendrei to help him fix his bike. He then tried to wrap a plastic wrap around her neck, but Szendrei screamed and attempted to run away, so he hit her over the head several times with the pipe.
DeBruin then fled, but he returned to pick up the pipe and a hat he left behind. By then, Szendrei's friends were already gathered around her. DeBruin told the group he had heard something and offered to help look for Szendrei's attacker.
The court heard police soon suspected DeBruin was involved in the attack. Investigators devised a Mr. Big-style undercover operation, in which DeBruin eventually confessed and re-enacted his crime.
Psychiatrists who testified at DeBruin's hearing said the attack was motivated by the DeBruin's desire to have sex with someone, apparently in order to get over his anxiety around women. The court heard DeBruin had sexually assaulted three other women in Delta in a series of escalating attacks before Szendrei's murder.
DeBruin stood up in court last fall and apologized for Szendrei's death. However, the judge concluded the man is a "sexually motivated murderer" who has not shown any insight into what he had done.
DeBruin's sentence of life with no parole for seven years is the maximum available to someone under 18 who is convicted of second-degree murder.
- By Vivian Luk in Vancouver