Maria Catroppa

Surrey senior who killed wife loses murder appeal

B.C. Court of Appeal upholds Sebastiano Damin's conviction in the 2009 stabbing death of Surrey grandmother Maria Catroppa.

Surrey senior Sebastiano Damin, who stabbed his wife to death in a brutal nighttime attack three years ago, has lost his appeal of his second-degree murder conviction.

Damin appealed in October, saying the judge erred in his verdict and arguing he was mentally impaired when he stabbed 69-year-old Maria Catroppa, his wife of ten years, more than 120 times in their Fleetwood-area townhouse.

Damin, 77,  was found guilty of murder in June 2011. During the trial, the court heard that the couple was having marital troubles and Catroppa wanted Damin to leave. A psychiatrist testified Damin was suffering from severe depression – a fact Damin’s lawyer said impaired his cognitive function and justified a lesser conviction of manslaughter.

But trial judge Justice Ian Josephson found Damin’s mental state did not indicate he didn’t have the intent to murder Catroppa and that he “knew what he did and why he did it.” Damin was “motivated by anger,” said Josephson, because his wife wanted to end the marriage.

Three B.C. Court of Appeal justices agreed in a unanimous decision posted online Thursday.

“The trial judge found that Mr. Damin’s depressive state at the time of the offence did not negate his capacity to form the specific intent for murder,” said Madam Justice Daphne Smith, with Justices Risa Levine and Harvey Groberman in agreement. “While arguably other inferences could have been drawn from the evidence, it cannot in my view be said that this verdict was unreasonable.”

It was about 3 a.m. on Nov. 24, 2009 when Damin woke up, went to the kitchen and got a steak knife. He then went to Catroppa’s room (they were sleeping in separate rooms at the time) and stabbed her 126 times.

He then attempted to commit suicide but cutting himself three times in the neck and once in the stomach, but couldn’t continue. Damin called 911 and told the dispatcher “I killed my wife. I tried to kill myself, but I can’t. I just got mad. She tried to ruin my life.”

Damin was sentenced to life in prison, the mandatory sentence for second-degree murder, with no chance of parole for 10 years.

Catroppa’s family says Maria was “sadly and simply” a victim of domestic violence, as was echoed in Josephson’s verdict when he said: “Unfortunately it is not uncommon in situations of domestic violence to see physical attacks on a spouse motivated by anger at an unwanted separation.”

Though the victim’s family is thankful Damin’s murder conviction was upheld, they say they have been forced to relive the horrible events yet again.

“We have not been given time to truly grieve our mother’s death,” said Catroppa’s daughter, Jay Tuason, noting Nov. 24 was the third anniversary of the murder. “We have yet to receive closure because her murderer continues to look for ways to buy his way out of jail. What about the victims – our mother? Us? We live every day wondering what we could have done to prevent this horrible tragedy…”

The family has established The Maria Catroppa Memorial Award at Kwantlen Polytechnic University to help single mothers further their education. For more information, check http://kwantlen.ca/news/2011/053111.html

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