Calgary

'I'll never forgive myself': Killer apologizes at sentencing for fatally stabbing girlfriend

Scott Ferguson was originally charged with second-degree murder for killing Susan Elko during an argument, but after a six day trial in March jurors returned with a manslaughter verdict. He's been sentenced to eight years in prison and gets four years credit for the time he's already served.

Scott Ferguson was convicted of manslaughter by a jury in March

In March, a jury convicted Scott Ferguson of manslaughter after he stabbed his girlfriend to death in September 2014. (Court exhibit)

Before he was handed an eight-year sentence for fatally stabbing his girlfriend in the neck 10 times, Scott Ferguson apologized to his former girlfriend's family.

Ferguson was originally charged with second-degree murder for killing Susan Elko during an argument in September 2014, but after a six day trial in March jurors returned with a manslaughter verdict. 

"I'm sorry from the depths of my heart for the intense heartache I caused the Elko family," said Ferguson. "I don't expect forgiveness because I'll never forgive myself.

"I hope and pray one day the people affected by this can find some degree of peace."

Though Court of Queen's Bench Justice Glen Poelman called the stabbing "an extremely violent, deadly and gratuitous assault," the judge said he believed Ferguson's remorse is genuine.

"His remorse was deeply and painfully felt," said Poelman. "He has owned his responsibility."

Poelman said would have handed down a 10-year sentence but Ferguson's offer to plead guilty to manslaughter before the trial earned him a two-year reduction.

Prosecutor Tara Wells had argued the "gruesome, violent" domestic killing should result in a 15-year prison sentence while Defence lawyers Balfour Der and Eleanor Funk proposed a six- to eight-year sentence. 

Twenty three letters of support for Ferguson were filed with the court. 

"This tragic event is out of character for Mr. Ferguson," said Funk. "His pain and his agony were obvious."

'We so loved her'

Earlier in the hearing, Elko was remembered as a kind sister and daughter who still called her mother "mommy" and sent care packages to sick family members 

Five victim impact statements were written by Elko's mother, father, sister, brother and sister-in-law.

"Suzie so loved the family as we so loved her," wrote her mother Della Elko. "I have never been the same person I was before."

Della signed her victim impact statement, "mommy," the affectionate term her daughter still used.

Mark Elko said his daughter lit up the room with her laughter.

"My heart was broken forever," he said of learning of her death.

Susan Elko died in September 2014 after being stabbed in the neck 10 times. (Facebook)

Ferguson and Elko dated for about a year starting in 2013 — he was a 24-year-old roofer, she was 39 and worked as a part-time server downtown.

During their brief relationship, the couple had a volatile, sometimes violent relationship. 

On Sept. 14, 2014, the pair began arguing as they fished along the Elbow River near Elko's home. When they returned to her apartment the fight turned physical, ending when Ferguson stabbed Elko 10 times in the neck with a knife she'd given him as a birthday gift. 

Ferguson called 911 after he'd stabbed Elko, admitted to police what he'd done and showed immediate remorse.

Aggravating the crime is the fact that Elko was killed in her own home in a violent attack, having been stabbed 10 times.

Ferguson will get four years credit for the time he's already served.