Calgary

No parole for 50 years for double murderer Emanuel Kahsai whose 'torture' of mother began a decade ago

Emanuel Kahsai's emotional "torture" of his mother began a decade before he killed her and another woman, according to Selma Alem's best friend. She spoke just before the murderer was given a life sentence with no chance of parole for 50 years.

Selma Alem and Julie Tran were found dead in northeast home in October 2015

Selma Alem, left, and Julie Tran were found dead in Alem's home in October 2015. (Calgary Herald/Family photo)

Emanuel Kahsai's emotional "torture" of his mother began a decade before he killed her and another woman, according to Selma Alem's best friend. She spoke Thursday just before the murderer was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years.

Last week, a jury convicted Kahsai, 32, of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of his mother, Selma Alem, 54, and Julie Tran, 25. 

"You tortured my Selma for years ... blaming her for all your mistakes," said the mother's closest friend, Susan Hills.

"You made her life a total hell for 10 years after Mike died."

After the 2005 murder of his brother Mike, Emanuel Kahsai began to spiral, said Hills.

A friend of Mike's who didn't want her name published agreed with Hills. She said it was at that point that Kahsai allowed "drugs and rage" to take over his life.

That friend became close with Alem after Mike's death: "I came to see Selma as my second mom; I remember her numerous times [saying] I was the daughter she never had."

"I knew instantly you were responsible … my only hope is one day you will feel remorse for taking away such beautiful souls."

Emanuel Kahsai is brought into the Calgary police processing unit by Det. Mike Cavilla, left, and Det. Dave Sweet, right, after his arrest. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Justice Glen Poelman noted there was "no shadow of an explanation" for Kahsai's "savage act of destruction."

Alem acted as a "supportive roommate" to Tran, who functioned as a 13-year-old because of FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) and was particularly vulnerable.

"Julie Tran was not collateral damage ... we know she was particularly vulnerable," said Poelman. "He discarded her life with the same brutality with that of his mother."

Kahsai faked psychotic illness

Throughout his three-week jury trial, Kahsai pretended to have a psychotic illness in order to derail the proceedings. 

The victims were stabbed to death in Alem's home in October 2015. Kahsai had recently threatened to kill his mother.

She had twice sought court-ordered protection — restraining orders — against her son in the weeks and months before her death.

Kahsai, who represented himself after firing his lawyer, watched and listened to the trial from a remote room where his microphone had to be muted because of frequent outbursts.

He would shout at the judge and jurors about various conspiracy theories, yelling for them to call the U.S. Army and FBI — behaviour which continued at the sentencing hearing on Thursday.

Reports prepared by psychiatrists and psychologists before the trial found Kahsai was faking a mental illness in order to escape criminal liability.

The victims were stabbed to death; their blood was found on Kahsai's shoes when he was arrested hours after the bodies were discovered. 

A first-degree murder conviction comes with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, but prosecutors Todd Buziak and Matt Dalidowicz argued for consecutive parole ineligibility periods of 50 years for the double murder. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is a justice affairs reporter. She has been covering courts, crime and stories of police accountability in southern Alberta for more than a decade. Send Meghan a story tip at meghan.grant@cbc.ca or follow her on Twitter.

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