A Surrey man found guilty in 2012 of killing his ailing wife has been handed a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years.
Thomas Robert Elton was found guilty of the second-degree murder of Brenda Turcan (also known as Brenda Blondell), but his sentencing was delayed until this week as his defence lawyer argued a life sentence was unconstitutional because of the nature of the killing.
Elton said he did not murder his wife, but helped her commit suicide.
The couple married in March 2005, about 10 years after they met, and lived in an apartment in Surrey. Turcan’s body was found in the couple’s suite in a building near 104 Avenue and 148 Street in June 2009.
During trial, Turcan’s doctor testified that she was suffering from a variety of progressive illnesses, but that all her medical problems were treatable and manageable.
Elton testified that he and Turcan had an agreement that if either of them wanted to die, the other would also commit suicide.
On the day Turcan’s death, Elton said he awoke at about 8 a.m. His wife was already up, sitting on a couch.
“Well, it’s time, it’s over,” Elton recalled Turcan telling him. “I’ve had enough.”
“What?” Elton said.
“It’s time, right?” he said Turcan replied.
Elton said those were the code words the pair agreed to use to indicate it was time for suicide.
He took their dog outside and came inside 15 minutes later to find Turcan unresponsive. He found a bottle of valium in her hand and thought his wife had begun the suicide process without him.
He said he then fed eight valium pills to his dog and took 23 pills himself.
He wanted to make sure Turcan was dead, and that she would not come to just to find him and the dog dead, so he strangled her and then stabbed her in the chest with a bayonet.
He then took an amount of methadone he thought would be enough to kill himself.
It wasn’t, and he was arrested at the scene.
At Elton’s sentencing Wednesday in New Westminster Supreme Court, Justice John Truscott found that Elton had committed a “mercy killing.”
“This was not an offence committed out of anger or hate for Ms. Turcan,” Truscott found. “They loved and cared for each other.
“Nevertheless, his actions constituted the murder of Ms. Turcan and I find Mr. Elton guilty of second-degree murder,” Truscott said.