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Updated: 5th September 2018 22:20

Court hears victims suffered 244 wounds in 'frenzy of violence' as triple murderer pleads guilty in Lethbridge

Austin Vielle, 24, pleaded guilty Monday in a Lethbridge courtroom to three counts of second-degree murder, but was so drunk at the time he killed his three friends, there are no answers as to what led to the fatal attack.

Clarissa English was stabbed to death alongside her brother Dakota English and boyfriend Kyle Devine

From left to right, Clarissa English, her brother Dakota English and her boyfriend Kyle Devine had just moved into a Lethbridge apartment together when they were stabbed to death. Austin Vielle pleaded guilty to killing the three on the first day of his trial Monday. (gofundme.com/Facebook)

Austin Vielle, 24, pleaded guilty Monday in a Lethbridge courtroom to three counts of second-degree murder, but was so drunk at the time he killed his three friends, there are no answers as to what led to the fatal attack.

The victims — Clarissa English, 24, her brother, Dakota English, 18, and Clarissa's boyfriend, Kyle Devine, 27 — suffered 244 stab and slash wounds during what prosecutor Vaughan Hartigan described as a "frenzy of violence."

Five knives and a meat cleaver were recovered by investigators following the 2015 attack. 

Defence lawyers, Tonii Roulston and Robin McIntyre, worked out the plea deal with prosecutors Hartigan and Bruce Ainscough. It includes a joint sentencing submission for a life sentence with no chance of parole for 20 years.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Rodney Jerke will sentence Vielle on Tuesday. 

Devine's mother read a statement written by his father, who described his son as "gentle and loving," adding the loss was "unbearable."

"You assumed a power you never should have had," Allan Devine told Vielle. "I suggest you pray, asking the creator for forgiveness."

Vielle showed no emotion or reaction as he listened to his victims' family members describe their grief and loss.

"​I looked at him straight in the eyes and he had a blank stare," said Chantelle English, who lost her two younger siblings. "He had no remorse."

Dakota nearly unrecognizable 

Devine and the siblings were living in the townhouse together as roommates at the time. They were all friends with Vielle, and the four had been drinking together the night of the slayings. 

​On April 28, 2015, Chantelle woke up to police banging on the door. Officers needed recent photos of her siblings in order to confirm the identities of the victims in the townhouse.

Chantelle said she and her mother began smudging and praying in hopes police wouldn't recognize the victims as their loved ones. When officers eventually showed them photos of the victims, Dakota was so badly injured his sister recognized only his hair and eyebrows.

Devine's brother also spoke about the grief of losing a sibling.

"I've been broken in body, soul and mind," said Ian Devine.

The three were found dead inside a Lethbridge townhouse. They died close together, their bodies all touching. 

Chantelle English says she has a lot of healing to do after her little sister and brother were murdered in 2015. The killer pleaded guilty in a Lethbridge courtroom on Monday. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

The thought of her grandchildren's final, violent moments torments Wendy English.

"It's like a wicked nightmare."

Wendy said her granddaughter — who left behind two young children — wanted to be a social worker, and her grandson, whom she called 'my main dude,' planned to go into the trades and wanted to get his education at SAIT.

Once he graduated, the plan was to give Dakota her Jeep, which he had picked out for her. 

Vielle too drunk to remember

This was the southern Alberta city's first triple homicide. 

"It is unclear what transpired between the parties but at some point that night Austin Vielle attacked Clarissa English, Dakota English and Kyle Devine and intentionally stabbed them repeatedly," reads an agreed statement of facts read aloud at the guilty plea.

All three victims were severely intoxicated at the time, according to their autopsies. 

Vielle — who was arrested two days after the stabbings — was so drunk he doesn't remember what happened, but there was plenty of forensic evidence to tie him to the murders.

'We're simply left without a why," said Hartigan.

Vielle turned self in

Devine suffered 84 stab and slash wounds while Dakota suffered 57 and his sister 103.

At the time charges were laid, Chantelle English told CBC News that Vielle wanted to date her sister but Clarissa "didn't want to be with him."

Two weeks before the three were killed, Vielle was charged with assaulting and threatening Devine. 

Police retrieved five knives, blades and a cleaver from the victims' home. 

On April 29, Vielle turned himself in to Lethbridge police to be interviewed. At that time, the suspect had cuts on his hands and fingers. He was arrested for the murders later that day.

Victims' DNA in Vielle's home 

When investigators searched Vielle's home, they found blood stained clothing and blood in his bedroom as well as two knife handles in the pockets of a pair of sweatpants. 

A forensic analysis found DNA from all three victims on Vielle's seized clothing 

Clarissa's DNA was on the meat cleaver, Dakota's DNA was discovered on the two knife handles in Vielle's sweatpants.

Vielle's DNA was found on the meat cleaver, a knife handle and a knife blade discovered at the victims' home.

'I have not been able to pray for you yet'

Roulston said her client wants to be rehabilitated and is "aware of the fact that he can never drink again."

"Mr. Vielle has an opportunity and he's already started rehabilitation... [he] has been sober and clean since he's been in custody," said Roulston.

Chantelle called both her younger siblings "my babies." She and Clarissa were best friends. 

"How am I supposed to live without her?" Chantelle asked in her statement. "The only person who understood me."

"We all have so much healing to do."

Though Laurie English said she now knows what the word hate means, she hasn't ruled out forgiveness.

"I have not been able to pray for you yet but I hope one day I will be able to."

Too emotional to address his victims' family members, Vielle had his lawyer read a statement he had prepared earlier:

I'm sorry this happened, I don't remember what happened
I'm sorry for bringing this pain on you and your family 
They were my friends
Kyle was a good friend, always there when something went wrong
Dakota had a lot of compassion...
Clarissa was very forgiving, I've never seen anyone fight with her
I wish this didn't happen.
I hope in the future there can be some kind of reconciliation but I know this would be very difficult.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.

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