Edmonton

Edmonton father faces life in prison for murdering two little girls

An Edmonton father has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the December 2018 deaths of his three-year-old daughter and a seven-month-old girl he thought of as his daughter.

Warning: Graphic and disturbing details

A memorial for the two sisters outside the apartment building where their bodies were found. (Héloise Rodriguez-Qizilbash/Radio-Canada)

An Edmonton man is facing life in prison for the murder of two little girls. 

In December 2018, the Edmonton father attacked two little girls — one was his biological daughter, the other was just like a daughter to him. They were seven months and three-years-old. 

A court-ordered publication ban protects the identities of the young victims. The ban was requested by the Crown. Prosecutors Carrie-Ann Downey and Danielle Green told Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Henderson on Thursday morning they believe the ban also extends to shielding the identity of the accused and the girls' mother. 

Last month he pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, aggravated assault and breach of probation. 

The Crown presented a joint sentencing submission for life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years. 

"This is a very sad case," Downey said. "The deaths of the two children were senseless and tragic. How the children died is graphic and it's horrific."

According to an agreed statement of facts, the father had just been released from custody in November 2018 after serving time for assaulting his common-law wife a month earlier. He was not supposed to have any contact with the mother of his child, but ignored the court order and moved in with her and the two little girls. 

On Dec. 5, 2018, the girl's mother left the house to attend a child welfare parenting assessment. 

The south Edmonton apartment where two little girls were murdered in December 2018. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

She left the accused in charge of babysitting and was out for about five hours. 

The father attacked the girls in a frenzy. The three-year-old was stabbed 21 times in the neck, chest and back. An autopsy later revealed she had defensive injuries on her hands and wrists. 

The infant was stabbed 16 times to the neck, chest and head. 

He admitted he took methamphetamine before and after the murders. 

After he killed them, he put the girls' bodies into two black garbage bags, then hid them in a bedroom closet underneath other household items. 

Mother attacked next

When the mother got home, she noticed the accused had some blood on his face and on a blanket he was holding. She tried to find her daughters and when she was unable to, she admits she punched the accused in a panic.  

The accused retaliated and struck her in the forehead with a large metal S-shaped bar. 

According to the agreed statement of facts, "The accused repeatedly struck [her] with the bar. [She] described to police that the accused had an evil look in his eyes and was smiling as he attacked her. [She] felt that the accused was trying to kill her."

She managed to escape and neighbours helped the badly injured woman, who was transported to hospital, still in a panic about her missing daughters. 

Meanwhile, the accused fled the apartment. Ultimately, he was found naked in a garage of a nearby house. 

The homeowner described him as "catatonic, incoherent and unable to speak with her", according to the agreed statement of facts. His blood-stained pants and t-shirt were found in a bucket in the garage. Police were called and he was charged for the aggravated assault of his common-law wife. 

Police went back to the crime scene to search for the little girls again. They found the two black garbage bags hidden in a closet. Both little girls were in the fetal position. The baby was in a onesie.

Police search the crime scene in south Edmonton in December 2018. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

The accused was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and has been in custody ever since.

'I really don't want to live' 

The little girls' mother sat huddled in the courtroom with her common-law partner as the Crown read her victim impact statement. 

"This has torn me up physically and emotionally and I have trouble coping," she wrote. "I am afraid to go to sleep at night. I have nightmares about him chasing me."

The mother said she's been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and still suffers from the injuries inflicted by her former partner. 

"Domestic violence doesn't belong behind closed doors. It shouldn't be hidden," she wrote. "When it's hidden, there are horrible results." 

The mother said she was speaking out to encourage anyone who's suffering abuse to seek help. She also expressed profound love for her daughters and spoke about the void their deaths has created. 

"I loved them and I loved being a mom," she wrote. "Now that the girls are gone, I don't exist. I'm not me anymore...I am depressed and I really don't want to live." 

Later during the sentencing hearing, when the Crown detailed the injuries her daughters suffered, the mother began to sob and ran from the courtroom. She didn't return. 

The defence will present sentencing submissions on Friday. 

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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