Monday, February 21, 2011

Teen charged in Delta girl's beating death

Teen charged in Delta girl's beating death

An 18-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in the beating death of Laura Szendrei, police in Delta, B.C., announced on Monday morning.

The accused was arrested in the North Delta area on Sunday without incident. He was not previously known to police.

The suspect's identity was not released by police because he was 17 at the time of the homicide. He is expected to appear in court later on Monday.

Szendrei, 15, died in hospital after she was brutally assaulted while walking alone through Mackie Park on the afternoon of Sept. 25.

Delta police spokesperson Sgt. Sharlene Brooks said police believe the suspect did not know Szendrei and it appears attack was a crime of opportunity.

"It's very difficult to answer if it was random or targeted. There are two avenues in which someone could be targeted: either specifically as a person or because an opportunity presented itself. And we believe an opportunity presented itself," said Brooks.
Parents react to arrest

Szendrei's parents made an emotional statement at the morning news conference after police announced the charges.

"There's no way to describe the feeling of this arrest other than to say we are so thankful," said Rachael Szendrei. "We still have many questions not answered. And we don't understand why this happened to our Laura," she said.

"We feel the depth of loss, grief and heartbreak … but for the first time, we also have some relief."

Szendrei's father Michael said when the investigation began he was not confident a suspect in his daughter's death would ever be found.

"At the beginning …I really didn't think the police would come through … but they have," he said.

As the 18-year-old stood in court, he was sobbing into a tissue. A sherriff had to tell the man to put the tissue down and look up at the judge.

Outside court on Monday, Michael Szendrei expressed his anger after seeing the man accused of his daughter's murder.

"I'd like to rip, his head off," Szendrei said. "He's in jail, I'm happy. The guy's not walking around where I am."

Sendrei said he hopes the accused teen's family "feels like I feel inside."