Man sentenced to 42 months in manslaughter case

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.

A Cranbrook man has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years behind bars after pleading guilty to charges of manslaughter and indignity to a dead body following the death of a senior woman last year.

Emmanuel Robert Murphy received his sentence Thursday in connection with the March 29, 2017 death of Waneta Hock, a 73-year-old resident of Mountain View Village.

An additional charge of theft over $5,000 resulting from a stolen van was stayed by Crown.

Murphy, 45, who has been in custody since shortly after his arrest last April, apologized for his actions and expressed remorse for his actions in front of Judge Lynal Doerksen in Cranbrook Provincial Court.

“I took a life,” Murphy told the court, “ I hurt someone. I hurt a mother, someone I don’t even know. I’ve screwed up my life…I apologize.”

Murphy, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia earlier in his life and has had struggles with alcohol and drug addiction, was living in Mountain View Village last March and intended to end his life in the bathroom the night of the incident, according to an agreed statement of facts between crown and defence lawyers.

After his mother confronted him over his plans to commit suicide, Murphy eventually left the apartment unit and went to a common area of the building where he encountered the victim. Murphy told authorities that he had his hands on her throat but doesn’t remember much else.

The victim was found stripped of her clothing, with exercise equipment placed on top of her. Forensics discovered DNA on her ankles and one wrist.

A pathologist determined that death was associated to a 75 per cent blockage of the right coronary artery and that the heart attack could have been brought on by a physical altercation.

The victim’s van was found on Hole 4 at Wildstone Golf Course the next day and contained some of Murphy’s personal items along with Hock’s wallet and cellphone.

He then broke into the house of a man who is involved with an addictions treatment centre.

He was later arrested under the Mental Health Act that day by RCMP and taken to East Kootenay Regional Hospital, in possession of the victim’s key to the common room when he was admitted.

While in custody, he was charged with the break and enter, but further charges relating to Hock’s death weren’t laid until August 2017, after DNA evidence linked him to the crime.

Murphy also admitted to police that he put exercise equipment on the victim’s face and neck to make it appear as if death was from asphyxiation. A pathologist doubted that gentle neck compressions which left no marks, would have been enough to cause death, if there was no heart disease, according to court documents.

Rick Strahl, Murphy’s lawyer, told the court his client had suffered sexual and physical abuse when he was younger that was never reported to police.

During the days and weeks leading up to the incident, Murphy had been in and out of homelessness and suffering from feelings of paranoia and of being shunned by his acquaintances.

Judge Doerksen said aggravating factors included indecency charge while drug and alcohol addiction were considered non-factors. Mitigating factors included his guilty pleas and admissions to elements of the offence.

He also said a sentence in federal prison will give Murphy the opportunity to access treatment programs for his mental health and alcohol and marijuana addictions.

Murphy, who was given a global sentence of 56 months, (just over 4.5 years) will receive credit for 280 days already in custody.

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