An Edmonton man who was charged with killing a senior in a daytime stabbing pleaded guilty Friday to a lesser charge of second-degree murder.
Haldane Jensen-Huot, 24, was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death of Hans Alberts, 77, in April 2008, but the charges were upgraded to first-degree murder last May.
Alberts was stabbed to death in the parking lot of a west Edmonton buffet restaurant, after celebrating his 29th wedding anniversary with his wife, in a random attack that horrified many people in Edmonton.
After Huot-Jensen entered his plea, both the Crown and defence lawyers made sentencing arguments. Second-degree murder convictions carry a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 to 25 years.
Crown prosecutor Steve Bilodeau called the attack "a heinous crime."
"People in the city are fed up with citizens, especially seniors, being stabbed by knife-wielding maniacs," he told the judge.
In the case of Jensen-Huot, Bilodeau asked for parole eligibility in the range of 18 to 20 years.
Defence lawyer Mona Duckett, however, told the court Jensen-Huot is suffering from psychological problems and is "being tortured by his own mind."
The young man became a recluse who was afraid to leave his own apartment because he feared people were trying to hurt him, she said.
Duckett didn't make any specific recommendation for sentencing but suggested it should be much lower than what Bilodeau was proposing.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sterling Sanderson will deliver his decision on Thursday.
At one point during the proceedings on Friday afternoon, Jensen-Huot stood up and apologized to Alberts's wife, Adelaide, who was sitting in the front row of the courtroom gallery.
"I know there's nothing I can do to bring him back, but I'd like to say I'm sorry," he said.
"Not accepted," Adelaide Alberts shot back.
Man attacked from behind, stabbed 8 times
After Jensen-Huot entered his guilty plea, Bilodeau read the agreed statement of facts to the court.
On April 18, 2008, Alberts and his wife Adelaide went to the Royal Fork Buffet to celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary.
The couple left the restaurant around 4 p.m. Once they got to the car, Alberts opened the door and helped his wife into the passenger seat.
Suddenly, Jensen-Huot came running up and stabbed Alberts in the back. He then grabbed the man around the throat with one hand and stabbed him with the other.
By the time the attack ended, Alberts suffered eight stab wounds — seven to the chest and one on the hand. One wound perforated the bottom of his heart.
Jensen-Huot never spoke a word, the court heard. After the attack, he ran off to his apartment.
Paramedics tried to save Alberts, but he was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital.
The next morning, Jensen-Huot left the city, taking a bus bound for Montreal, by way of Calgary.
In the meantime, Jensen-Huot's mother heard about the slaying and contacted police, the court was told. He was arrested in Saskatchewan.
"We were soulmates and best friends"
Adelaide Alberts, who witnessed the attack on her husband, read her victim impact statement in court Friday.
She told the judge she suffers from fear, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder, she admits to having survivor's guilt and she sleeps with a knife under her pillow.
"In 1977, I met the man of my dreams. We were soulmates and best friends," she said. "Why is life unfair to the innocent? Why did this happen to us?"
Outside the courthouse, Kim Gray spoke about the toll the crime has taken on his mother.
"Most of my efforts have been trying to keep my mom going," he said. "She lost a soulmate. It's just really tough to how you replace that or get over that."