Melissa Jean Chatham

Melissa Jean Chatham

Surrey killer’s parole denied

Kelly David McKenzie beat girlfriend Melissa Chatham to death in 2008.

A Surrey man who beat his girlfriend to death four years ago was denied day parole earlier this month because his temporary release from prison would place the public at “undue risk.”

A decision by the Parole Board of Canada dated Sept. 5, said not only was Kelly David McKenzie’s 2008 offence grave, but he has limited insight into his crime, was unlawfully at large on a previous release (with the help of family) and is assessed at a high risk for violence in a relationship.

McKenzie, now 39, was initially charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of Melissa Jean Chatham, 24, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced in late 2009 to nine years in prison, less three years for time served. The parole document details how McKenzie assaulted Chatham over a prolonged period of time, in front of his young son, and then did not call 911 for several hours. McKenzie claimed he was drunk and high and was upset because he thought Chatham had stolen money from him.

McKenzie waived his right to an in-person parole hearing – prompting friends of Chatham to label him a “coward” for not being able to face her family – so his parole review was based only on submitted documents.

The parole board said while McKenzie’s behaviour in jail has improved and he claims to have been sober for four years, he has demonstrated “pro-criminal values,” used violence to achieve personal goals and has a lengthy history of abusing intimate partners.

“A psychological assessment dated November 28, 2011 concluded that you have a rather superficial understanding of your crime process…” wrote the board.

The day parole was requested so McKenzie could attend a community based residential substance abuse treatment program. McKenzie wrote to the board himself about his insight and remorse, among other things.

“In reading your submissions, the Board concludes that you continue to minimize your offence and blame the victim despite your claim that you accept responsibility and are remorseful,” reads the parole decision.

Chatham’s murder inspired an anti-violence forum in North Delta last year called Take a Stand/Lend a Hand geared at targeting violence and assisting victims.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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