MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — A woman who was 12 when she helped murder her family because they disapproved of her relationship with an older man is preparing to live a "real life in the real world'' when her sentence ends next spring.
The woman, who is now 21 but can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was convicted along with her then boyfriend of killing her mother, father and eight-year-old brother in the family's Medicine Hat home in April 2006.
Her 10-year youth sentence expires May 7, 2016, and she continued on her path toward freedom Thursday when a judge removed her weekday curfew. Her curfew on weekends was removed at an earlier court date.
"For the last portion of her sentence she'll be living as a normal individual in society so we'll be able to tell and see that this sentence has done what it was supposed to do, which is to reintegrate her and prepare her to live a real life in the real world,'' her lawyer Katherin Beyak said outside court.
"I think everyone's looking forward to the end of the sentence.''
Court heard how the young woman, who appeared via video link from Calgary, has progressed in her rehabilitation to the point where she is at extremely low risk to reoffend.
"It's another positive report. In fact, all the reports I've received since I imposed this sentence a number of years ago were positive,'' said Justice Scott Brooker. "The risk level, according to the reports, remains low and, in fact, her score measures at the lower end of the lowest level.''
She is living on her own in Calgary and has been enrolled in university.
Her sentence was the maximum for young offenders between 12 and 14 and included four years in a psychiatric institution and 4 1/2 years under conditional supervision in the community.
Her former boyfriend, Jeremy Steinke, who was 23 at the time of the killings, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
The Crown argued she and Steinke concocted a plan to kill the girl's parents because they disapproved of the 10-year age gap between him and the girl.
It was suggested the crime was loosely based on Steinke's favourite movie ''Natural Born Killers," Oliver Stone's twisted love story about a pair of young serial killers who get their start by killing the girl's parents.
Steinke admitted in court that he stabbed the mother and the father after he snuck into the family's home. But he argued that he did not plan the killings.
He said he attacked the mother, who was wearing only a nightgown, after she turned on a light switch and found him huddled in the darkened basement.
She screamed. Her husband came running with a small screwdriver and rushed Steinke. The man died in a fighter's stance, his arms still raised above him with loose fists in a room splashed with blood.
Steinke steadfastly maintained the boy's death came at the hands of the girl.
At trial, police officers and other witnesses became emotional as they recalled seeing the body of the small boy, found on his bed with a deep slash to his throat, his eyes and mouth wide open. Stuffed animals and a toy light sabre spattered with the boy's blood could be seen next to his body.
Steinke and the girl were arrested in Leader, Sask., about a 90-minute drive away, the day after the bodies were found.
The young woman spoke briefly in the court hearing Thursday expressing her "gratitude'' for the team that has worked with her.
The final review of her sentence is to be scheduled for April 2016, a month before she goes free.
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