One of Edmonton's most notorious criminals wants to change his name. He also wants to keep his new identity secret.
Leo Teskey, declared a dangerous offender in 2010 after his 2000 attack on Edmonton landlord Dougald Miller, told a judge Wednesday he wants to change his name so he can "reintegrate successfully" back into society.
Teskey — who beat Miller into a vegetative state — has a long and violent criminal history, with prior convictions including shooting a police officer in the back of the head in 1988 and assaulting a two-year-old boy in 1994.
Teskey is entitled to apply this year for day parole and full parole.
"I'm just trying to get on with what little bit of life I have left," Teskey said by telephone Wednesday morning from the Edmonton Institution.
The matter was heard in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench as Teskey not only wanted to have his new name kept secret, he wanted a publication ban and sealing order to be issued on the very fact that he plans to change his name.
Acting on behalf of CBC News, CTV and Postmedia, lawyer Tess Layton argued that such a heavy shroud of secrecy would not protect the public should Teskey be released from custody.
"It would prevent the police from notifying the public about his release if it ever happens," Layton said. "Mr. Teskey is a dangerous offender who poses a serious risk to the public and a high risk of reoffending."
Justice Doreen Sulyma dismissed Teskey's application for a sealing order and publication ban on the hearing.
Teskey's original application and affidavit, filed in July 2019, were also released to the media.
Teskey's request was "to not have my name-change published in print, online, on the radio or on TV."
He blamed most of his problems on the media.
"My life's been put in jeopardy many times as a result of reporting that's been done," he wrote in an updated document that was filed with the court in February. "I've been hindered to have my rehabilitation realized … [as a] result of prejudiced or uninformed people who continue to want to punish me above and beyond what is humane."
Teskey included a 2017 Corrections Service Canada report about an incident that resulted in him being placed in protective segregation.
Teskey was transferred to the Edmonton Institution in February 2017. Three months later he was assaulted by four inmates after they learned of his offences.
"Upon reviewing the unit profiles, it has been determined that inmate Teskey cannot integrate into any of the general population units due to his profile," the report states.
Teskey told the court he is worried for his safety inside the prison and thinks he will continue to be a target if he is released using the name that has become so well-known.
"They're not reporting about the good I've done," Teskey told the judge. "My child still loves me despite the media trying to turn them against me."
A 2016 psychological assessment noted Teskey had been diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder with narcissistic tendencies and that he met the criteria for psychopathy.
His risk to reoffend and reoffend violently were also rated high.
Criminal record would not stop name change
Despite planning to change his name for more than a year, Teskey has yet to file the necessary paperwork with the Alberta Registrar.
A lawyer for Alberta Justice told the court the registrar said that once the paperwork is filed, there's no reason why his name change request would be denied.
Teskey will be required to include his criminal record, but since he has no sexual-offence convictions, his record would not preclude allowing the name change.
"I'm not a spring chicken. I'm a grandfather," Teskey, 50, told the judge. "I want to be the person that my grandparents would have been proud of."
If Teskey's name change is granted, it will not be posted or announced anywhere and will remain confidential unless someone discovers the new identity.
"There have been many other offenders who have actually managed to change their name, retired Edmonton police officer Wil Tonowski told CBC News. "Karla Homolka was one of them. It wasn't long before the public found out what that name change was."
Tonowski used to work with the EPS high-risk-offender unit. He said he wasn't surprised Teskey wants to change his name.
"He wants to avoid the publicity, the notoriety that comes with his name because of the many horrible things he's done," Tonowski said. "I'm not so sure it's a good thing for the community to not know where this man is and what he's all about."
The head of the Edmonton Police Association agreed.
"He's been convicted. He's a dangerous offender. He needs to own up and be responsible for his actions for the remainder of his life," Sgt. Mike Elliott told CBC News. "Changing his name does not give him the right to hide or run away from what he has done."
Elliott is concerned that Teskey might also try to change his appearance should he be granted parole.
"Cuts his hair, dyes his hair, tries a little facial hair. Because of his status as a dangerous offender, it's my opinion that public safety is more important than an individual with that status in this case."
'You can't fix him'
Teskey has left a string of victims in his wake.
His dangerous-offender status was declared after he beat Dougald Miller into a vegetative state. Miller's wife Lesley became a fierce and outspoken advocate for her husband. She vowed to attend all of Teskey's parole hearings, but passed away more than a year ago. Miller died in 2016.
In 1994, Teskey was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend's two-year-old son. The little boy was taken to hospital with bruises on his head and body. The skin of his penis had been torn.
Just before he turned 18, Teskey shot Const. Michael Lakusta in the back of the head. He was tried as an adult and found not guilty of attempted murder but was convicted of lesser offences.
Lakusta is now retired, but continues to hold strong opinions about Teskey.
"The old saying is a leopard never changes his spots and he's one of them that never will," Lakusta told CBC News. "If Mrs. Miller would be alive, she'd say just keep him in there because that's where he deserves to be."
Ironically, Lakusta said the first time he encountered Teskey, he lied and gave police a false name.
"You can't fix him," Lakusta said. "It's in his blood."
About the Author
Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston
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