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Man who murdered 15-year-old Alberta girl sentenced to life in prison

A man who murdered a 15-year-old girl in a small Northern Alberta community has received an automatic maximum life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

In April, Jason Alec Tallcree, 39, was found guilty in the July 2020 beating, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Roderica Ribbonleg.

Ribbonleg’s remains were found hidden in a beaver burrow several days after she went missing from John D’Or Prairie, about 750 kilometres north of Edmonton.

In his decision Friday in Peace River, Alta., Court of King’s Bench Justice Wayne Renke sentenced Tallcree to nine years for sexual interference and two years for offering an indignity to a body, to be served alongside the life sentence for first-degree murder.

“Miss Ribbonleg is no longer with us,” Renke concluded. “She can’t testify to what she felt in her last moments. I find beyond any doubt that she was terrified. She was severely psychologically damaged in her last moments, from the time the beating began until she was no longer conscious.”

Renke found Tailcree’s degree of blameworthiness to be very high.

“He purposefully interfered sexually with the person he knew was a child. His blameworthiness was compounded by his intentional physical attack on Ribbonleg. He sought to harm her through violence”

The justice said the victim impact statements left him with no doubt of the “substantial effect on many, many people by this offence.” 

The statements recalled a happy, playful girl; expressed fear and anger for other young relatives, and sorrow for the daughter, friend, sibling and schoolmate no longer with them..

Because murder carries an automatic life sentence without parole for 25 years, arguments earlier Friday focused on the sentences for sexual interference and the disposal of Ribbonleg’s body.

Crown prosecutors James Sawa and Ryan Ziegler pressed for maximum sentences in both crimes —14 and five years respectively.

They noted Ribbonleg was a foster child and girl of Indigenous heritage subjected to extreme violence.

“The nature of her vulnerability is self-evident and profound, which the accused undoubtedly preyed upon,” Sawa said. “After killing Miss Ribbonleg, he discarded her the way someone would discard an unwanted item, hoping that she would never be found.”

The Crown urged Renke to consider Tailcree’s “escalating pattern of behaviour, resulting in the murder of a child,” the “use of extreme gratuitous violence to accomplish the crime” and Tallcree’s high risk of re-offending.

Tailcree’s criminal record stretches back to 2003, court heard. He has been convicted of sexual assault and confinement multiple times. One of those victims was a girl of 11.

Defence lawyers Adam Chatty and Ajay Junjeja proposed a sentence of seven years for sexual assault and three years for the indignity, in consideration of “the very tragic circumstances” of his upbringing.

Tailcree was born into poverty to parents who attended residential school and used substances, court heard.

His own use of substances began at the age of 11, soon causing run-ins with police. As a boy, Tailcree was physically and sexually abused by family members.

Renke said the case lacked mitigating factors but noted his legal obligation to consider Tailcree’s systematic challenges as an Indigenous offender based on the 1990 Supreme Court ruling known as the Gladue decision.

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