Surrey woman who stabbed mother 24 times ‘knew it was wrong,’ Crown says


NEW WESTMINSTER  — A Surrey woman who stabbed her mother 24 times knew it was morally and legally wrong and should be found criminally responsible despite her mental illness.

That’s what Crown prosecutor Craig Yamashiro argued in his final submissions Tuesday, in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

Gloria Zerbinos, 30, is being tried for second-degree murder in the Nov. 8, 2012 death of her 43-year-old mother Panagiota "Yota" Zerbinos.

"She knew it was wrong to kill her mom," Yamashiro told Justice Fritz Verhoeven. "She attempted to conceal what she had done.

"She did know it was morally wrong and she acted despite it."

The victim’s body was found lying on the living room floor of her daughter’s basement suite in Fleetwood with a kitchen knife stuck in her chest.

Justice Fritz Verhoeven heard she was stabbed 24 times and had been afraid to be alone with her daughter in the months leading up to her death.

The court had already heard testimony that the accused had assaulted her mother on more than one occasion before the homicide.

Yamashiro noted a pathologist found Zerbinos stabbed her mom with the force of "pounding a nail into hard wood."

Zerbinos was arrested in Vancouver on Nov. 10, 2012, inside a Vancouver strip club called No. 5 Orange, where she’d worked as a dancer about a year and a half earlier under her stage name, "Naudia Nice."

"When she was apprehended, she knew the reason why," Yamashiro said.

The court heard she told police she believed her mom was involved in a conspiracy to chloroform her and pimp her out, and that she had to put a stop to it. She told investigators her mom "pissed her off."

"It’s a tragedy and I’m sorry that it happened," she told police. She noted the Apostles were prisoners, and were forgiven. Yamashiro said she also told police she looked at this as a "wake-up call, a learning lesson."

Zerbinos’ lawyer John Gustafson argued she should be found not criminally responsible because she is mentally ill. Psychiatrist Todd Tomita diagnosed Zerbinos with Mixed Personality Disorder, with histrionic and antisocial traits.

But Yamashiro argued she knew well what she was doing.

"There is no reliable evidence her psychosis was active and present during the predicate offence," he said.

At times Zerbinos rocked from side to side in the witness box. She did not testify.

Yamashiro noted she covered her mom’s body with a blanket, locked the door to her basement suite, dropped her child and dog off at her grandmother’s house, and took off. Four hours after killing her mom, Yamashiro noted, Zerbinos met a stranger in Vancouver, told him her name was "Eva," and spent the night with him. "She lied to him by stating she lived by herself and had no family."

In reply, Gustafson said her medical records indicate "highly erratic and unusual behaviour." Yamashiro argued the defence failed to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that Zerbinos did not know her actions were morally wrong. "She was aware of how others might view her behaviour," Yamashiro said. Gustafson replied that having an intellectual understanding of other people’s views is different than moral awareness. He argued her delusions were impacting her ability to sort out her moral reasoning.

The judge will reveal his decision on whether Zerbinos will be found criminally responsible next Thursday, July 23.

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