Manslaughter the verdict in Okotoks stabbing death

Court: Judge will set sentencing date today for Pelaez

By: Darlene Casten

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 12:03 pm

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It was neither an acquittal nor a murder conviction for an Okotoks man who admitted he stabbed his girlfriend to death, but claimed it was self defence.

A six man, six woman jury found Carlos Pelaez guilty of manslaughter Friday, after deliberating for less than a day.

The jury rejected Pelaez testimony that he was stabbed first by his suicidal girlfriend and also did not convict on second-degree murder, which Crown prosecutor Ron Siminek urged them to consider.

Pelaez testified at the end of his two-week trial, saying he was stabbed first by his girlfriend, Marites Teresa Reyes Enrique.

The 26-year-old woman had arrived in Okotoks three weeks before her death from the Philippines. Pelaez, a temporary foreign worker also from the Philippines, told the court he asked his employer at a fast-food restaurant to help sponsor her as a temporary foreign worker, but she never went to work and became increasingly unhappy.

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

Enrique’s brother testified his sister had sent him text and chat messages during that time that said she was happy the first two weeks, but in the last week she had become depressed and scared of Pelaez. She had a ticket to return to the Philippines and was to leave the day after her murder.

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.

On April 17, 2012, 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 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.”

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.

A sentencing date for Pelaez will be set today (Feb. 25) by Justice Rosemary Nation.


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