Burns Lake resident Reuben Buhler, 56, was supposed to appear in Smithers Supreme Court on Dec. 7-8 for a sentencing hearing for a triple homicide he committed in Burns Lake in April 2015.
The sentencing hearing was put over to Dec. 12 after dense fog at Smithers Regional Airport cancelled flights and made impossible for the judge to fly in.
Both Crown and defence counsel thought it would only take one day to complete the sentencing.
The family of former Quesnel resident Erh Ola Andersen and the families of the other two victims have been waiting a long time to get some closure.
Around 8:25 a.m. on April 27, 2015, the Burns Lake RCMP attended a residence in the 200 block of Fifth Avenue after receiving a report of potential foul play.
According to media reports, neighbours said they heard gun shots ring out earlier that morning. When officers entered the residence, they found three people – Ridge Vern Vienneau, Mitchel Wade Ruttan and former Quesnel resident Ehr Ola Andersen – dead inside.
Buhler, who had originally been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, entered a guilty plea to three counts of second-degree murder during a court appearance in Smithers Supreme Court.
On May 4, 2017, news outlets reported the accused’s lawyer said Crown agreed to dropping the first degree murder charges for a guilty plea to second degree murder charges, thereby showing Buhler was accepting responsibility for his actions.
Second degree murder is a deliberate killing but unplanned; therefore, there was no trial and the families of the victims did not have to sit through a trial. Buhler will automatically be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.
However, the accused’s lawyer noted these pleas were entered prior to trial, and by doing so his client, showed genuine remorse, so he thought a 15- to 20-year parole ineligibility period would be appropriate in this case.
The sentencing matters were adjourned to Oct. 23 for sentencing.
On Dec. 7, the lawyer for the accused and the Crown agreed to appear in Smithers Supreme Court on Dec. 12 to complete the sentencing.