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“It’s a sentence that’s so obnoxious, it would laughable if this wasn’t so unbelievable and so serious,” said Cindy Mjolsness, aunt to the Calgary man who on Monday learned he will spend the rest of his life in state prison on charges of attempted murder.
“We were shocked, absolutely shocked when he read the sentence — I could hardly stand.” Mjolsness was in the Libby, Montana courtroom when a judge decided Calgarian Michael Ilk would never be a free man again, having been convicted of wounding his ex-girlfriend and her co-worker with a handgun.
“I don’t see any way to protect the public with him outside of prison,” said Lincoln County District Judge James Wheelis, before sentencing the Calgary builder to two 80-year sentences for attempted deliberate homicide and 40 years for two counts of aggravated assault, with no parole.
By Canadian standards, where attempted murder means a decade behind bars at most, it’s off the charts — but in Montana, harsh sentences for attempted deliberate homicide are not unheard of.
In 2013, 60-year-old Montana resident Diana Arnold got 100 years for shooting and wounding a former tenant, with her appeal denied. of Helena was given a 60-year prison sentence for attempted deliberate homicide, after leaving his ex-girlfriend permanently disabled in a stabbing attack — but unlike the Canadian, he has a chance at parole in 20 years.
Ilk, who turns 42 next week, will die in Montana State Prison if his own appeal is denied, with the unyielding sentence erasing any notion of rehabilitation for a guy who previously had no criminal record or prior dealings with the law, beyond once dating a Toronto police officer.That cop actually attended the sentencing as a character witness, saying Ilk was not an angry or irrational person, but it made no difference.Neither did the testimony of his brother-in-law, a Calgary cop, or guards at the Libby jail, who say Ilk is a model prisoner.“There’s not an ounce of hatred in that man’s body, no meanness at all,” said his aunt.Mjolsness says the extreme, no-hope sentence caps 17 months of hell for Ilk, who lost his battle to convince the court he was acting in self-defence, after claiming he was set up and ambushed by the two people he shot, leaving them with non-critical wounds.Officially, Ilk cornered his ex-girlfriend Hadassah Pereslete and her co-worker Tyler Wilson in a construction site on April 15, 2015, before firing 14 shots at their vehicle, hitting Pereslete in the leg and arm and Wilson in the arm and hand.