Just before a victim impact statement was read on his behalf, Trevor Forsyth walked to the front of the B.C. Supreme Court gallery and, with a loud thump, placed a large green urn bearing his wife’s ashes beside her killer.
Gloria Zerbinos, sitting inside the Plexiglass prisoner’s box, looked at the urn containing her mother’s remains, up at Forsyth, and back to the urn.
The Crown prosecutor proceeded with reading how the murder of Pangiota “Yota” Zerbinos – at the hands of her daughter Gloria – has caused lasting pain for Forsyth.
“It has been over three years and I still can’t make it through the day without tearing up,” wrote Forsyth, Yota’s longtime common-law spouse.
He talked about the trouble he has sleeping and how being in the kitchen, where he spent hours with Yota preparing Greek food, is nothing but heartbreaking now. He also said he’s lost a lot of friends.
“I have changed and not for the better,” Forsyth said. “My nieces wish they could have their uncle Trevor back…”
The statement was read during Gloria’s sentencing hearing on Friday (Dec. 4) in New Westminster court. She was found guilty in September of the second-degree murder of her mother, and while the conviction carries an automatic life sentence, a judge must decide the length of parole ineligibility, which can range from 10 to 25 years.
Gloria appeared momentarily distraught upon seeing her mom’s urn – one of the first signs of emotion she has shown throughout the trial process, which began in January. She stared stone faced while victim impact statements were read. Friends and family in the gallery cried.
It was Nov. 8, 2012 when Forsyth and his brother discovered Yota’s body in Gloria’s basement suite in Surrey.
The court heard the 43-year-old was stabbed at least 24 times and was found covered in a blanket with a knife still protruding from her chest.
After the murder, Gloria, who was 28 at the time, took her young son and dog up the street to her grandmother’s home (Yota’s mother). She said nothing of the stabbing and did not return.
She was arrested two days later at a Vancouver strip club where she danced. She is now 31.
The Crown is recommending Gloria not be eligible to apply for parole for at least 13 years, while defence is suggesting 10-12 years.
On the day she was killed, Yota was bringing Gloria her clean laundry. Crown characterized the murder as an “unprovoked” and “extremely violent” attack.
While no motive has been established, lawyers agreed Gloria suffers from a psychotic disorder, possibly schizophrenia. They said she also uses illegal drugs, complicating both the diagnosis and treatment.
The court heard that prior to Yota’s death, Gloria had delusions someone was plotting to chloroform and molest her. In jail, Crown prosecutor Jas Gahunia said Gloria has displayed a volatile temperament and has been paranoid and delusional, accusing authorities of poisoning her food and piping gas into her cell.
Earlier this year, Justice Frits Verhoeven denied Gloria was not criminally responsible for her mother’s murder, saying there was no evidence a mental condition impeded her capacity to know the attack would be fatal.
In a statement read on his behalf, Trevor’s brother Scott Forsyth said there weren’t words to adequately express the anguish caused by Yota’s murder.
He said Gloria not only took away a sister, wife, daughter and friend, but she killed her own mother, who brought her into this world.
“I will be forever haunted by Gloria’s actions, not to mention what she’s done to her son,” said Scott of Gloria’s child.
Yota’s older sister also submitted a statement, calling Yota her “first baby” – a sibling she took care of as a child and who she continued to guide as an adult. They last saw one another when Yota and Trevor visited her in Greece in 2010, and dreamed of their next visit – a dream they’ve now been denied, she said.
“I will never, ever forgive her for murdering my baby sister Yota.”
Gloria has no prior criminal record.
Verhoeven will deliver his decision on parole ineligibility on Dec. 21.