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Son Of Greed
18 year old Darren Huenemann of Saanich, British Columbia seemed

to be a model student, friend, son and grandson. His mother Sharon called

him the "perfect gentleman", as did most of the community around him.

When his grandmother Doris made out her will in 1989, she made it so her

daughter Sharon would receive half of her $4 million dollar estate, and

Darren the other half. At the same time Sharon updated her will to include

Darren as the beneficiary of her estate. If they ever came to harm and died,

he would be a very rich young man. In the fall of 1989, Darren Huenemann

decided that he wanted to be that very rich young man now.

The book, Such A Good Boy: How A Pampered Son's Greed Led to

Murder, written by Lisa Hobbs Birnie, starts out with a profile of the

characters involved in the brutal tale. First is Doris Kryciak Leatherbarrow,

born in Calder, Saskatchewan in 1920. Doris grew up in poverty, the oldest

of seven children in the farming family. Doris was a good student when she

went to school, but quit at fifteen and worked at school. She married George

Artemenko, a shipyard worker, and became pregnant soon after. She gave

birth to Sharon Doreen in March of 1943. This daughter never knew her

father; George died in a fall at work three months after the birth of his child.

This left Doris alone and knowing that she needed to do something to

support her child. After the war, she landed a job with the newly formed

Unemployment Services in the Vancouver area, where she raised enough

money to complete one of her dreams: own her own dress shop. She married

again to Rene Leatherbarrow, and expanded her dress shop to a large

fashion warehouse with four stores.

Next explained in the book is Sharon Doreen Leatherbarrow. She

grew up under a mother that was always working, and a father that was

usually away on business excursions. She learned how to manipulate her

mother using guilt to receive what her young heart desired. She married

three times: the second wedding yielding a son named Darren Charles, and

the third wedding to Ralph Huenemann lasted until her death. Sharon

usually lived off her mother's wealth, but was later put on the payroll by

Doris when Doris needed assistance in her work.

The last character explained is Darren Charles Huenemann. He grew

up in almost constant attention from his mother and "beloved gran" Doris.

Birnie states, "By the time he was in the third grade he had learned the

rules... He had to be clean, polished, polite, under control, understanding,

and always very nice to other people." (Birnie, p 51) Darren interacted

differently with his peers at younger ages: he didn't engage in physical sport

often, but was popular due to is financial status. He became involved with a

group of role-players in the popular game "Dungeons and Dragons". Here he

let some of his true feelings loose: the desire to rebel, the violence and

rudeness he kept inside, and the tendencies he had to kill his grandmother


The book then turns to a chronological telling of the events, starting

with the drafting of the wills of Doris and Sharon. This seemed to be a

turning point for young Darren, who stepped up his ideas around his peers.

He confronted two of his friends, David Muir, and Derik Lord, both 16

years old. These youths, although pleasant enough around their families, had

already dealt in illegal activities, smuggling lethal knives into Canada from a

post office box in Washington State. He promised them rewards for killing

his grandmother and mother. For David, a cabin in the woods, a new car and

about 100,000 dollars. For Derik, he would become Darren's bodyguard,

and also receive land and money for weapons. They agreed, and decided

after weeks of thinking over the problem that the easiest way to kill the pair

would be when Sharon visited Doris in nearby Tsawwassen. They would

break in, wait for the pair, then club them and slit their throats.

Darren, in the meantime, had become delusional. He staged a play at

his school called "Caligula", a play about a Roman emperor who symbolizes

absolute freedom and consummate evil. He began to speak of ruling small

countries, and reveled his murderous plans to his girlfriend, Amanda

Cousins. She did not tell anyone about the plot, for she feared that Darren

would kill her as well.

After a botched attempt two weeks before, Derik and David entered

the house of Doris Leatherbarrow on October 5th, 1990, stating they were

Darren's friends stopping by. Sharon put two more helpings of dinner into

the microwave. Derik and David then struck the two with their concealed

crowbars, and used kitchen knives to slit their throats. They overturned

furniture and emptied drawers in an attempt to make it look like a botched

break and enter. Darren and Amanda picked them up after their ferry ride,

and Darren drove his friends home, then returned to his house to "wait for

his mother's return".

The police had other suspects, such as business associates, but Darren

had the motive of greed and so they asked around in his circle of friends,

including Lords, Muir and Cousins. Darren hired lawyers for the three

youths, which fueled the suspicions. Then, after a period of questioning, the

police made a move. They moved on David Muir, finding inconsistencies in

his stories. David cracked; he gave a full confession. However, this was not

admissible evidence, but it confirmed the fears of the investigators that

Darren had brutal planned the whole thing. They then went to Amanda, who

also gave her account on the night of the murders in exchange for Crown

Witness status. This was the evidence the police needed. They arrested Muir,

Lords and Heunemann for first degree murder.

While Heunemann could be tried in an adult court since he was 18,

the other two boys were only 16, which meant a hearing to see if they should

be lifted to adult court as well. Issues here included the reform possibilities

of the two, their mental health, the harshness of adult prisons, and the

severity of the brutal slayings. It was concluded that both should be tried in

an adult court, and that no protection from the Young Offenders Act should

be offered.

In the Heunemann trial, the crown lawyer Sean Madigan knew that

reasonable doubt and presumption of innocence would be his obstacles, and

that defense lawyer Chris Considine would use these tactics and clauses to

win his case. Pictures of the victims, character witnesses against Darren and

a few of Darren's friends from "Dungeons & Dragons" game sessions were

the prosecution's tools to try to convict Darren. Darren's friends all testified

that he had been known to say that he wanted to "snap [his] gran's neck".

Amanda Cousins testified that Darren had shared his plans with her all

along. Defense lawyer's attacked her credibility, citing that she had lied to

police numerous times during questioning, and that her testimony was a way

of revenge against Darren for ending their relationship. In their final

arguments, both the Crown and the defense used elements of Amanda's

testimony to strengthen their case.

The jury, after only three hours after retiring, decided to believe

Amanda Cousins and delivered a guilty verdict on both counts of murder

against Darren Huenemann. The judge sentenced Darren to imprisonment

for life without eligibility for parole for 25 years. At this, Darren

Heunemann, calm throughout the trial, dropped his mask, and cursed the

judge, the court, and the world.

In the cases of Muir and Lord, the same elements, presumption of

innocence and reasonable doubt, were used by the defense to try to acquit

their clients. For Lord, he also had a statement by his mother, Elouise Lord,

claiming that Derik was home for the evening on October 5, 1990. The

Crown drew upon Amanda Cousins's testimony again to describe the events

of that evening, as well as two young eye witnesses that placed the pair in

the neighbourhood that night. The taxi driver who drove the pair to the

neighbourhood, who had identified the pair at the first hearing, not wasn't so

sure about the pair, vaguely remembering the youths. The defense jumped

on this, hoping to raise doubt in the jury. Curiously enough, the defense for

Muir offered no evidence for their client, only using the presumption of

innocence in the closing arguments. The jury did not know of the confession,

since it was unadmissable by law, but the evidence was still overwhelming.

The jury, after a night and morning of deliberation, returned guilty

verdicts for both boys. They asked, however, that the boys be afforded some

protection by the Young Offenders Act, in that they be eligible for parole

earlier than the usual 25 years. The judge sentenced the two to life

imprisonment with parole available after 10 years of their sentence.

The last two convictions, after the Lord family's appeal was turned

down by the Appeal Court of British Columbia, were the end of the brutal

tale. Birnie then makes the comment, "As they walk out of the courtroom... it

is clear the schoolboys have gone forever and hard-time inmates... are fast

emerging." (Birnie, p 268)


Lisa Hobbs Birnie is a career journalist and has written other books

such as I Saw Red China; India, India; Love And Liberation; Running

Towards Life; and A Rock And A Hard Place. Prior to living in Canada, she

worked as a reporter in her Native Australia, then in England, and in the

United States. She now lives on an offshore island in British Columbia,

where she studies cases and other stories.

In Birnie's attempt to capture the elements of the case and deliver

them without bias and with integrity, one can see she has succeeded in most

areas. She used perspectives from almost every angle, and combined them

with equal criticism and judgment.

The book is divided into logical parts, each outlining a certain aspect

of the case, such as profiles of the main players, the outline of the plan, and

the separate trials. However, save mentioning the people who said certain

statements, she does not reference the trial at all or any other books with a

reference page. However, it does state that she spent "countless hours at the

hearings and trials" in the cover notes of the book, therefore this shows she

have first-person experience of the case.

Lisa Hobbs Birnie doesn't really argue the case. She only relates the

facts as she saw them. However, she does make a few points of interest. She

seems to disagree with certain aspects of the Young Offenders Act, stating, "

it's the judge's assessment of the mind-state of the offender that can result in

either a treatment-orientated three-year slap on the wrist, or 25 years... as a

lifer." (Birnie, p 180) This may show that Birnie feels that the Act is too

lenient on the more serious crimes. Also, she shows her ideals on

psychiatrists and psychologists, stating they work in a "grey area", while law

students, lawyers and experts live in only in black and white. This can cause

great rifts in a courtroom; with lawyers wanting a "yes or no", while the

psychologist can only give "maybes". (Birnie, 182)

In a similar case, Steve Wayne Benson, son of the wealthy Benson

family who accumulated wealth in the Tobacco Industry. He too, was

shielded, protected and dominated by his powerful family. (Leyton, p 59) He

planted bombs inside his parents van and destroyed them himself. The

difference in the case is that the accused was older, all of 34 years. The

motive, and the delusions, are the same. Greed, and the idea that the money

will give him ultimate power. (Leyton, pp 40-43) He was sentenced to life

imprisonment without any chance of parole, mostly because of his age and

his unrepentant attitude. (Leyton, p 83) Another case is the one of the

Japanese son Sawanoi who butchered his parents because they didn't agree

with him. The youth was there, he was only 12 when he committed the

crime and would serve very little time inn Canada because of the Young

Offenders Act. However the Japanese courts put him into a mental asylum

indefinitely because of his mental state. (Leyton, 251) The motive to kill was

not the same as the Huenemann or the Benson murders.

The contribution of the Huenemann, Lord and Muir cases relate to the

Young Offenders Act. The fact that Lord and Muir were raised to an adult

court instead of a youth court. This probably happened partly because of

public pressure of the community to see justice done. Also, the life

convictions, with no parole until 10 years were done, was a harsh

punishment for the 16 year olds, however it showed that the court was not

going to be lenient for just a heinous crime. This may set a precedent for

other courts to use the full extent of their power to deliver a jurisprudent

sentence, one of justice and fairness. Also a power sentence will show that

the youth, knowing exactly what they were doing, are not above the law in

their rights. Huenemann's money and influence also was shown to be

ineffective in his attempts to become above the law. Finally, this case gives

an example of the motive of greed, purely and as evil as it gets.


This case shows that pampering a child, showering him with wealth,

and flaunting the idea that "it will all be his someday", is a formula for

disaster. The child does not have a chance to develop his own personality,

therefore puts up "masks" and his real personality broods and grows to

resent his elders.

The book, Such A Good Boy: How A Pampered Son's Greed Led To

Murder, written by Lisa Hobbs Birnie, is a well written case review, with

very little bias or contrary opinion. It strictly relates the facts in almost every

aspect. This would be a good book for a senior law class to read and relate

their ideas on the evidence, the judgment, and the inside of the criminal

mind of Darren Huenemann.
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