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Burnaby man found guilty of killing estranged wife

A 44-year-old Burnaby man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2009 stabbing death of his estranged wife.

She was killed in front of three of their five children who were aged three, seven and 10 at the time.

A publication ban has been imposed on the names of all those involved, who are referred to by their initials in Monday's court judgment.

The victim, L.V., was killed Sept. 21, 2009 at her home in South Burnaby. Their three daughters were home at the time while their sons, aged 14 and 16, were at school.

The defendant, O.V., had been living in a separate residence in Burnaby for about two months. His wife and children planned to move to a new address the following month without informing O.V., according to the reasons for judgment by Justice Catherine Bruce, and packing boxes and materials would have been evident in the house. He had previous convictions for assault and mischief involving abuse of his wife.

On the day of the murder, he arrived unannounced and while the victim did not want him to enter, she allowed him to use the washroom. He stayed to make an herbal remedy for a stomach complaint, they argued and he eventually grabbed a knife from the kitchen and stabbed his wife while she sat on the couch watching television with her three daughters. He dropped the knife in the sink then fled.

The girls ran to a neighbour's home to call police as their phone line was disconnected in anticipation of the move.

O.V. was arrested by New Westminster police a short time later at the Petro-Canada station at Canada Way and 10th Avenue in Burnaby.

The autopsy found L.V. bled to death from 15 stab wounds, most of which pierced vital organs. Swabs of blood taken from O.V.'s nose and cheek after his arrest matched that of himself and the victim.

Police officers testified that O.V. was calm and showed no emotion after his arrest.

Hours before the murder, O.V. visited the Burnaby RCMP detachment to complain that people were following him.

Several of their children testified that O.V. had a history of mental health issues, was paranoid and physically abused their mother and themselves and accused their mother of having an affair and taking drugs.

In court, O.V. admitted he killed his wife but defence lawyer Roxane Vachon argued that his mental state at the time was an issue.

A forensic psychiatrist, Dr. S. Iskander, assessed O.V. in 2011 for the Crown and found that, while he likely suffered from paranoia" on the day of the murder, he was not suffering from a major mental disorder at the time of the offence. Iskander's report also stated there was not enough evidence to suggest he was unable to know what he was doing was wrong at the time of the stabbing.

But a forensic psychiatrist who assessed O.V. on behalf of the defence in November 2012, Dr. Smith, concluded "more likely than not" that he was suffering a delusional disorder at the time of the killing. However, there was insufficient information for her to reach firm conclusions about his ability to know his actions at the time were legally or morally wrong.

The defence argued the difference in psychiatric opinions was likely due to the fact O.V. was on anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medication during Iskander's assessment but not during Smith's.

In her decision, Justice Bruce concluded O.V. had a "disease of the mind" and that he was suffering from symptoms of a delusional disorder at the time of the stabbing.

However, she determined the mental disorder did not prevent him from appreciating the nature and quality of his actions.

After the stabbing, he fled from the home and was in such a hurry he left behind a backpack on the back porch, she noted. Before he was arrested, police observed him looking around "furtively for some time in a nervous manner." After his arrest he was aware of what the police were saying to him and requested legal counsel and a Spanish interpreter.

Bruce concluded O.V. would have become aware of the plan to move without telling him of their new address by the boxes in the hallway and chairs stacked on the table. "These clear signs of an impending move would likely have inflamed the defendant’s state of mind because it meant that his contact with the children would be disrupted."

She added that O.V. disclosed to Dr. Iskander that as a young man in his native Colombia he was occasionally aggressive in romantic relationships saying, “A couple of times I had to slap my girlfriend because she flirted with other guys.”

He told Dr. Smith that the problems in his relationship with his wife started when they came to Canada where women have much more freedom and power than in Colombia. "Based on these disclosures, it is apparent that the defendant believed the use of violence in his relationships with women was acceptable," Bruce said.

"Thus the defendant had many cogent reasons to be angry with the deceased that have nothing to do with the delusions that he held about her. Murder is commonly the act of an angry spouse. Due to these other proven facts, one cannot say that the defendant’s actions were inexplicable or completely bizarre."

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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