Edmonton

Alberta murder trial hears accused's confession: 'I killed my mom'

Ashton Saddleback, 35, is on trial for the second-degree murder of his 51-year-old mother Corrine Saddleback. She died in her own home in November 2020 after, witnesses say, the pair got into a drunken argument.

Judge must decide if confession to killing was voluntary

Corrine Saddleback in a 2017 photo. Saddleback died after a fight in her home in Maskwacis in November 2020. (Corrine Saddleback/Facebook)

A Court of Queen's Bench judge will have to decide if a confession from a man accused of murdering his mother was made voluntarily.

Ashton Saddleback, 35, is on trial for the second-degree murder of his mother Corrine Saddleback on Nov. 7, 2020. 

The day before his mother died, Saddleback had appeared in court. He pleaded guilty to driving over the legal alcohol limit and was given a $2,500 fine and had his licence suspended for 18 months. 

After he left the courthouse he purchased two bottles of vodka, went to his mother's house in Maskwacis, 100 kilometres south of Edmonton, and began drinking.

His mother left the house with two female adolescent family members to make food deliveries. 

One of the girls, whose identities are protected by a court-ordered publication ban, testified they were out in the van until almost midnight.

She said Corrine Saddleback stopped twice at liquor stores and was drinking while she was driving around. 

The girl said the 51-year-old was so drunk, she was having trouble behind the wheel by the time they arrived home shortly before midnight.

The girls couldn't remove her from the van, so they went inside the house to ask Ashton Saddleback for help. They said he was also drunk, clutching a half-empty bottle of vodka in his hand.

The girls heard Corrine Saddleback ask her son if he wanted to fight. 

"He laughed and said no," one of the girls testified.

The girls said they were scared and went into the basement to get away from the drunken adults. 

Both young family members testified they heard what sounded like some kind of fighting upstairs including banging and thumping. One girl said it sounded like someone was getting thrown around. 

They heard Corrine Saddleback scream and the banging stop. 

About 10 minutes later, one girl said she heard what sounded like a scrubbing sound. 

'I need to go to jail'

Cordell Jonson testified he got a panicked phone call from his older brother at about 12:30 a.m.

"He was pretty frantic. He was tripping out," Jonson testified. "He was crying and said … 'I killed Mom.'" 

Saddleback called 911 next. The recorded phone call was played for Justice Steven Mandziuk. 

Saddleback told the operator he wanted to report "a 187," which is slang for murder.

"My mom is gone. Everything is gone," Saddleback said. "I need the cops here. I need to go to jail." 

The operator asked for more details. Saddleback said no weapons were used. 

"I came to and I'm all bloody and I hurt my mom," he said. "I don't know what the hell's going on right now. 

"I'm so drunk." 

Ashton Saddleback, 35, is on trial for the second-degree murder of his mother Corrine. (Ashton Saddleback/Facebook)

RCMP said Saddleback was on his knees in front of his mother's house when they arrived. He did not resist arrest. 

"He said to me, 'I killed her,'" RCMP Const. Stephen Taylor testified. 

Saddleback was interviewed by an RCMP officer with the Major Crimes Unit. 

In the morning, it appeared he didn't remember what had happened. But by mid-day, he told Const. Phillip Smith, "I think I remember now ... I killed my mom."

He held his face in his hands and began to cry. 

"My family's going to disown me," he said "I just finished going to court yesterday and now I"m going to jail for murder."

Saddleback admitted he drank a bottle and a half of vodka and blacked out. He told the constable that when he came to, he had blood all over himself. 

"I keep washing my hands and I still see blood," Saddleback said. "I feel sick to my stomach. I can't believe it." 

The constable asked if he wanted a garbage can to throw up in. Saddleback said he wanted a hug. 

Smith stood up and put one arm around Saddleback. 

"It feels like a bad dream and I can't wake up," Saddleback said through his tears. 

"I loved my mom … She wasn't the best mom, but she was my mom." 

Closing arguments on the admissibility of the confession will be made to Mandziuk on Friday morning.

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 janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

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