Derik Lord denied day parole, maintains innocence in 1990 murders of classmate’s family

A Saanich man convicted of killing a friend’s mother and grandmother for inheritance money has been denied day parole again, after telling the Parole Board of Canada he is not prepared to say what “others want to hear.”

At a hearing Sept. 10, Derik Lord continued to claim he was wrongly convicted and is innocent of the 1990 murders of Sharon Huenemann, 47, and her mother, Doris Leatherbarrow, 69.

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Lord and David Muir killed the women after Mount Douglas Secondary School classmate Darren Huenemann promised them part of a $4-million inheritance.

The two 17-year-olds went to Leatherbarrow’s home in Tsawwassen on Oct. 5, 1990, and were invited in for dinner. They bludgeoned the women with a crowbar and slit their throats. Lord and Muir then ransacked the house to make the killings look like a robbery, taking cash from the dead women’s purses.

In 1992, all three were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Lord and Muir were both eligible for parole after 10 years because they were young offenders.

Muir, the only one of the three to admit his role in the killings, has been on full parole since 2003.

Huenemann, who tried unsuccessfully to escape from prison in 1995, remains in custody. In 2017, after serving 25 years of his life sentence, he applied for an escorted temporary absence, but was turned down.

Lord, now 46 and married with a son, was transferred to a minimum-security institution in 2017.

He applied for day parole, which would allow him to live at a community residential facility and work at a camp in northern B.C.

During the hearing, board members asked Lord if he had considered admitting to the murders.

Lord told them he had talked to a counsellor and determined it would not be in his best interest. “It would be telling a lie,” he said.

Four victim-impact statements, read aloud at the hearing, show the victims’ families oppose Lord’s release and fear retaliation. “They express their trauma and psychological harm as well as the deep loss they continue to suffer as a result of not only the deaths of their loved ones but your refusal to accept responsibility,” the parole board said in its decision.

Board members noted that Lord displayed no reaction or emotion during the lengthy statements.

The board considered the fact that Lord has been in prison for 27 years and had no criminal history when he committed the murders.

He completed high school in prison and has taken escorted temporary absences, as well as two 120-day work releases at the camp in northern B.C. No concerns were raised about his behaviour in the community.

The board said Lord has an offer of employment and has not been violent for two decades. He has the support of his family and his wife is willing to relocate.

However, the board was concerned that Lord has not taken any correctional programming for nine years, but relied instead on the cultural practices of his Métis heritage, which he discovered and embraced in prison.

A 2019 psychological assessment found Lord was at low to moderate risk for violent reoffending, but that his issues with insight, empathy and responsibility for the crime increase his risk for violence.

“Until such time as Mr. Lord takes accountability for his crime and is willing to discuss the details of his offence, any assessment of risk will be incomplete and lack confidence,” said the psychological assessment.

Other experts have indicated that Lord’s lack of insight into his role in the murders makes it impossible to develop a comprehensive risk-management plan for him in the community, the board said.

Lord’s behaviour in prison has been concerning at times, the board said, noting he has been in conflict with staff and visitors, tested above the allowed threshold for drugs, and was charged for failing to provide a urine sample and for making threatening gestures to an officer.

Lord talked at the parole board hearing about being an angry, isolated youth. He admitted carrying knives to school and acting as if he was prepared to use them.

In the hearing, he did not show any understanding of the violent attitudes and fantasies he had prior to the murders, and was unable to speak of any connection between his violent thoughts and his risk to violently reoffend, the board said.

Board members found Lord’s manner to be entitled and dismissive.

Although Lord demonstrated regret and remorse for the impact his conviction and incarceration had on him and his family, “at no point” did he acknowledge the pain of the victims — an acknowledgment that would not require a confession of guilt, the board wrote in its decision.

“The lack of empathy you demonstrated is consistent with psychological reports that point to deficits in your capacity to consider the impacts of the murders on the victims’ family members and loved ones.”

In the end, the parole board found the negative aspects of Lord’s case outweighed the positive. The board said it was concerned with the level of harm that could occur if Lord were to reoffend. It concluded that his release on day parole would constitute an undue risk to society.

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