When convicted murderer Denecho King spoke at a sentencing hearing earlier this month, he told the court he was “deeply sorry” before asking to be sent down south to a penitentiary where he can benefit from the federal programs he needs – and to begin an appeal process.
The brief mentioning of his plan to appeal, seemingly at odds with his emotional but vague apology, has sparked speculation about King's legal intentions moving forward.
King was convicted in July of second-degree murder and aggravated assault in a 2014 sword attack that claimed the life of John Wifladt and seriously injured Wifladt's best friend.
King was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for at least 12 years on Monday.
Outside the Yellowknife courthouse following Justice Andrew Mahar's decision, King's lawyer, Jay Bran, told reporters King is “aware of what his options are.”
“I've had limited discussions with my client about (appealing). There may be some areas my client will want to explore,” said Bran, adding he's unsure if he'd be involved as counsel for King if an appeal went ahead.
“(King) has already expressed through some of his comments that's something he's already thinking about it,” said Bran.
In Canada, offenders wishing to appeal either their conviction or sentence, can do so on certain grounds.
Appeals can be filed on the grounds that a verdict was unreasonable, that a judge made an error of law, or that there was a “miscarriage of justice,” and for a number of other reasons.
Did the judge make an illegal ruling? Was the decision unreasonable? Were there any issues with the evidence?
Those are the types of things King will have to “scrutinized,” in order to move forward with his appeal process, a source close to the courts told Yellowknifer.
“Any area in the trial or the hearings leading up the trial where the court had to make decisions and give reasons for that – those would all be areas that I think would be scrutinized on an appeal,” said the source, who asked not to be named.
“There are many, many areas that could be a source for an appeal,” the source said, adding King could also scrutinize how his lawyer performed.
Several family members expressed disappointment following Monday's parole ineligibility decision.
Jack Wifladt, the victim's father, who is in his 70s, told reporters he may not be around when King is eligible for parole in 2030. But his family will be sure to follow King's parole hearings closely, he said.
King is expected to be transferred to a southern penitentiary but it's unclear when that will happen.