Jury deliberating on Okotoks murder case

Court: Accused claims self-defense in stabbing death of girlfriend

By: Darlene Casten

  |  Posted: Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 08:23 pm

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The trial into the murder of a Filipina woman killed shortly after arriving in Okotoks ended Thursday with the jury hearing two very different versions of the deadly fight that happened two years ago.

Court heard that Marites Teresa Reyes Enrique spent her last moments talking to her brother about finding a place to print an airline ticket back to the Philippines, a flight that was leaving the day after her murder.

Closing arguments wrapped up Thursday morning in the second-degree murder trial of Carlos Pelaez, who is accused of stabbing his girlfriend, Enrique, a 26-year-old woman from the Philipines, to death in their Cimarron apartment on April 17, 2012.

She arrived in Okotoks three weeks earlier and had a job at the same fast food restaurant in Okotoks where Pelaez was working, however she never went to work there and became increasingly unhappy in Canada before her death.

Pelaez told the court she complained about the cold weather, a sore back, lack of sleep and feeling isolated and alone in Okotoks.

Online chats and texts with her brother revealed the woman was scared of Pelaez and the pair were constantly arguing in the week before her death.

The court heard testimony that on April 17, Pelaez summoned a neighbor to their apartment. He had stab wounds to his stomach and wrist and Enrique had stab wounds to her back, hands and neck. One of her stab wounds punctured a lung when the knife pierced through her chest to her spinal cord and her pinky finger was severed.

Defence lawyer David Chow said his client was attacked first by Enrique with an eight-inch knife. Chow said the Enrique told Pelaez she wanted to kill herself on numerous occasions. At times Pelaez said he hid the knife block and other times he would bring her a knife when she said she wanted to kill herself and she would calm down, Chow said.

On the date of the deadly altercation, Chow told the jury, Pelaez was stabbed in the stomach with the knife by Enrique after he handed it to her when she again said she wanted to kill herself.

“What happened is he handed her the knife and it was plunged into his belly,” Chow said. “He defended himself like anyone would.”

Pelaez got the knife away, Chow said, and admitted to stabbing Enrique multiple times.

Chow said the fight was over in a matter of seconds and said his client had up to 14 cuts and stab wounds, including a large gash that started at the bottom of his stomach and extended above his bellybutton.

Pelaez also had a slash on his wrist, which he admitted was self-inflicted. Chow said Pelaez cut his own wrist after seeing what he had done to Enrique and passed out.

When Pelaez woke up and saw Enrique sitting next to him, struggling to breathe he called 911 and when they didn’t understand him, he called his work and asked them to call 911. He then went on knocked on neighbours doors to get help. Eventually a neighbor, who was an off-duty Calgary police officer, answered his door and went to the couple’s apartment to help. When EMS arrived an air ambulance was called, Chow said, Pelaez wanted Enrique to be taken first.

“He wants her to go first in the helicopter,” he said. “Why? Because he wants her to be saved. That’s consistent with everything he did.”

Crown prosecutor Ron Simenik painted a picture for the jury of a man who became increasingly angry with the complaints of his girlfriend and said on the day of the stabbing he snapped, possibly because she had taken another job or when she told him she was leaving the next day.

“When she got here he took care of her,” Simenik said. “He got a second, a third and eventually a fourth job to pay for everything and she wasn’t grateful. Nothing he could would make her happy.”

Simenik said the defence argument that Enrique wanted to kill herself and attacked Pelaez first doesn’t make sense.

“She’s out the door,” Simenik said. “She wants to leave, print her ticket, leave her problems behind.”

In conversations with her brother Enrique said she was depressed, crying every day and said ‘I almost want to kill myself’, but Simenik said she had a plan to leave and therefore had no reason to commit suicide or attack Pelaez.

He also pointed to three suicide notes Pelaez wrote to his mother in the Philippines, his coworkers and his friends. Siminek said the notes bequeathed property to his mother and cautioned others not to be made a fool of, like he was doing.

The jury will receive instructions from the presiding judge Thursday afternoon and will then begin their deliberations.


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