‘Execution-style murder’: Killer of 19-year-old Calgary hockey coach sentenced to life in jail

A Calgary judge has sentenced a young man who shot and killed another man to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years.

In February, Hunter Van Mackelberg was convicted of second-degree murder for killing Kalix Langenau, when both men were just 19 years old.

The court heard Van Mackelberg fired a shotgun at the back of the victim’s head at close range in the early morning hours of Feb. 15, 2020, at a rural property near Balzac.

Justice Glen Poelman told the court that “it was an execution-style murder” and Van Mackelberg “displayed a callous disregard” for Langenau.

He and Langenau were at odds over girls they were in relationships with, the court heard, and the killing was the result of years of tension between the two men.

Van Mackelberg, now 21, did not speak at his sentencing hearing.

BELOVED HOCKEY COACH

Several family members and friends read tearful victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing on Thursday.

His mother Tracy Henderson said her first child was the rock of the family, and now there is a piece missing.

“He was such a great child, such a great brother, such a great son,” she told reporters outside the Calgary Courts Centre.

She then added, “12 years is definitely not enough in my opinion for the young life that was taken and the lives that have been destroyed ever since then.”

His father, John Langenau, told the court he was in agony, as if pieces of his heart and soul had been ripped out.

“There’s no such thing as justice when someone is torn from your life, especially someone as charismatic, inspirational, funny, good-hearted, patient and as lively as Kalix is,” said Langenau.

Langenau is remembered as a children’s hockey coach at Explosive Edge in Airdrie with aspirations of a career in the sport, and had applied to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology for a broadcasting program.

Many family members say they are grieving for missed future milestones, holidays and celebrations that will never be shared.

Surviving family members have set up the Coach Kalix Foundation to provide sports equipment to children.

FACTS OF THE CASE

Friends said Langenau lived in Vancouver and was visiting Calgary for the Family Day long weekend.

Langenau had a previous relationship with Madeline Kot, the girlfriend of Van Mackelberg at the time of the crime.

Hours after multiple text messages were exchanged between the victim and Kot, the killing took place in a field Van Mackelberg and friends were familiar with.

The killer phoned his father to ask what to do with the body after the murder.

Defence lawyers argued the messages shared between the victim and the killer’s girlfriend was provocation and a mitigating factor, but the judge dismissed that saying it was not a crime of passion.

Crown prosecutors argued that Van Mackelberg had a known history of disorderly behaviour and disregard for the law and asked for a parole eligibility after 18 years.

Speaking with reporters on Thursday, prosecutor Ron Simenik said the judge gave sound reasons for the sentence that was handed down.

“The fact these were young men is troubling to say the least,” said prosecutor James Sawa.

“The justice had to balance the obviously heinous nature of the crime with the fact there’s some prospect for Mr. Van Mackelberg to be rehabilitated and that is a difficult decision that he had to make.”

Sawa then added, “it’s still a life sentence.”

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