Six years for stabbing girlfriend to death

Court: Crown calls attack with kitchen knife gruesome

By: Darlene Casten

  |  Posted: Tuesday, May 06, 2014 03:53 pm

Carlos Pelaez, here leaving Okotoks court, received a six-year sentence on May 6 for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend.
Carlos Pelaez, here leaving Okotoks court, received a six-year sentence on May 6 for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend.
Wheel file photo

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Six years in prison is the sentence for a temporary foreign worker from Okotoks who stabbed his girlfriend to death in their Cimarron apartment, after helping her land a job in the town.

Carlos Pelaez was sentenced by Justice Rosemary Nation Tuesday for the stabbing death of his girlfriend Teresa Enrique and with pre-trial credit will spend almost another three years in jail.

Prior to being sentenced Pelaez said he takes responsibility for Enrique’s death.

“I’m sorry for the terrible things I’ve done,” he said.

He also apologized to her friends and family.

“I have had the last two years to think about the pain and suffering I have caused, especially to her family and friends,” he said, reading from a paper. “I have prayed for the families that they can find the (sic) peace.”

In a victim impact statement, Enrique’s brother, who lives in California, wrote about her family’s devastation over her death.

“It hurt me so much,” he wrote. “She’s my one and only sister. It makes my every day-life change.”

He said after Enrique’s death he couldn’t eat or sleep and felt tired all the time. The two were close, and she called him every day and continued talking after she arrived in Canada, when she told him about her growing unhappiness.

Enrique had only arrived in Okotoks three weeks before her death. She was supposed to work at the same fast food restaurant as Pelaez, but became increasingly unhappy and eventually bought a plane ticket to return to the Philippines.

However, the day before she was to depart Enrique and Pelaez got into an argument and he handed her a knife and suggested she kill herself.

Pelaez testified she stabbed him in the stomach and then he grabbed the knife away from her, stabbing her 11 times in the chest, neck and hands, severing a finger.

Pelaez then cut his own wrist and passed out. When he awoke he tried to call 911 and called his work, asking them to call 911. Pelaez also summoned a neighbour, who was coincidentally an off-duty police officer, and tried to perform CPR on Enrique.

She died on route to hospital and Pelaez was airlifted to the Foothillls Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries.

Crown prosecutor Ron Siminek said Pelaez should be handed a sentence of eight to 12 years.

“The wounds, the attack, as I will describe it, are gruesome,” Siminek said. “There could be no explanation for why he stabbed her in the back twice, but he did.”

Defence lawyer Jim Lutz argued that Pelaez should receive a jail sentence of three years to six years, calling the situation unusual.

“I don’t think anyone anticipated this is how it would turn out,” Lutz said, explaining Pelaez handed Enrique the knife because she said she wanted to kill herself and he was simply giving her the means to carry it out.

Pelaez showed no reaction when Nation sentenced him to six years in prison for manslaughter, reducing the sentence to 35 months, or just under three years with time served. He was given 1.5 times credit for the two years and 12 days he has spent in pre-trial custody at the Calgary Remand Centre.

Maria Hemus, an Okotoks-area resident has been communicating with Pelaez since the incident happened. She said his friends contacted her to help him find a lawyer after the stabbing. Pelaez continues to call and writes her letters, Hemus said, adding she is the only person he has in Canada to talk to.

“His friends ran away from him,” she said, explaining some couldn’t talk to him because they were witnesses at his trial and others were afraid to communicate with him because they feared it would jeopardize their jobs.

“He’s alone here,” she said.

The situation was avoidable, Hemus said, and is a tragedy.

“When they (immigrants) get here they get depressed,” she said. “(The stabbing) shouldn’t have happened. If they had got help, if they had got counseling at that time it never would have happened.”

Hemus said she feels for both Enrique’s and Pelaez’ families, adding she has contact with his family on Facebook and wants to meet Enrique’s family, but has not been able to yet.

“I am sad for them,” she said. “I want to meet her family. I know it’s sad for them. That was there hope too and then that happened.”

Over the past two years, Hemus said they haven’t talked about the murder, but she said he told her he was fearful over his future.

While in prison he has been studying the bible and is part of a Christian group that meets inside the remand centre, Hemus said, adding she encourages him to turn to God and prays with him.

In his last words to the court, Pelaez said he is trying to reform himself.

“I can’t change the past, but I can change by getting the help I need,” he said.


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