Thursday, March 15, 2007

Courtepatte's mother crusades for tougher sentencing

David Staples, edmonton
Published: Sunday, March 11, 2007

Peacha Atkinson believes there was an unfair rush to judge her as a bad parent after her 13-year-old daughter Nina Courtepatte was murdered in 2005.
“I’m trying to show other people that I’m not that horrible monster that I was made out to be in the beginning,” Atkinson said Saturday.

A number of issues about Nina’s family life were initially reported following her murder, including that she was killed after midnight April 3, having left West Edmonton Mall with a gang of older mall rats, and her family didn’t report her missing until April 6.

Atkinson said she has not been able to speak out about such issues, and is still greatly limited in what she can say, because of the police investigation and the trials of the five people charged in the incident.

“I’m going to let people know the real me now,” she said. “I am compassionate. I really care for my children and I’m a giving person, and if something makes me angry enough I will speak out.”

On Saturday afternoon, Atkinson helped lead a protest march from City Hall to the legislature, taking another step in a journey that has seen her move from being a grieving, highly criticized parent to a crusader for changes to the criminal justice system.

About 200 people joined the march, including the families of several young men recently slain in the Edmonton area — 20-year-old Dylan McGillis, 16-year-old Josh Hunt, 17-year-old Shane Rolston and 17-year-old Cameron Campbell.

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