Maskwacis man sentenced to life in prison for killing his mother

Corrine Saddleback died in November 2020 of multiple blunt injuries to her head and neck. (Wombold Family Funeral Homes - image credit)
Corrine Saddleback died in November 2020 of multiple blunt injuries to her head and neck. (Wombold Family Funeral Homes - image credit)

Warning: This story contains distressing details.

A Maskwacis, Alta., man was sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years for killing his mother.

In November 2020, Ashton Saddleback attacked and killed his mother Corrine Saddleback by repeatedly punching and stomping her.

An autopsy later revealed that the 51-year-old grandmother died of "multiple significant blunt injuries to the head and neck."

He was drunk and high on drugs at the time of the attack. Once he realized what he had done that night, Saddleback contacted RCMP and confessed. He's been in custody ever since.

Last March, Court of King's Bench Justice Steven Mandziuk found Saddleback guilty of second-degree murder.

Before the sentencing hearing began in Wetaskiwin Court of King's Bench Friday morning, the judge allowed Elder Kirk Buffalo to say a prayer in Cree and present an eagle feather to Saddleback.

"We're very grateful for your presence and glad to have you here," Mandziuk said to Buffalo.

Saddleback, 36, addressed the court before sentencing.

"I'm so sorry Mom. I didn't want this," Saddleback said through his tears. "I'm sorry my Saddleback family for the shame and dishonour I've brought to the name."

He told the judge that he is not going to drink anymore and doesn't want to do drugs anymore either.

"I'm not a bad man," he said. "I made a horrible mistake and I have to live with this for the rest of my life."

Crown prosecutor Calvin Patterson and defence lawyer Robert Wachowich presented a joint sentencing submission that recommended the lowest possible sentence, after taking into account Saddleback's remorse and his troubled past outlined in a 35-page Gladue report.

Gladue reports present circumstances of a self-identified Indigenous accused's life for a judge to consider while deciding on a sentence. These can include personal and community histories, and traumas such as colonialism and its ongoing impacts.

"It paints the upbringing he has had in the local community," Patterson said. "It was quite sad and is the main reason the Crown is submitting to the court that the correct parole ineligibility is 10 years."

The judge agreed.

"I found it very difficult to read the Gladue report and to see what you've gone through in your life," Mandziuk said. "It was very powerful and absolutely connected a path to how you ended up here today."

All four of Saddleback's grandparents were forced to attend residential schools, which began the cycle of substance abuse and physical violence, the report said.

Saddleback said his parents were part of the Sixties Scoop and both of them experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse at school.

Ashton Saddleback/Facebook
Ashton Saddleback/Facebook

Saddleback told the Gladue report author that his mother was physically and emotionally abusive. He described her as a heavy drinker who smoked marijuana daily and began using crack cocaine regularly when he was 12.

Saddleback said he realizes now that his mother did the best she could raising him and his siblings.

"I wouldn't be here if I wasn't using alcohol and drugs that night," Saddleback told the Gladue report author.

Saddleback told the Gladue report author that he experienced racism at school and was also sexually abused by various family members when he was growing up.

Saddleback has six children ranging in age from two to 15, some of whom have refused to speak to him since the murder.

In court on Friday, Saddleback said he wants to grow into the man his children need him to be.

"I've fought my whole life to survive," he said.

The judge told Saddleback that he did not think he was a bad man.

"I think it's important that you know that," Mandziuk said. "You have people who really love you and you carry that with you."

The judge also strongly recommended that Saddleback be allowed to serve his prison sentence close to home at Pê Sâkâstêw Centre in Maskwacis so his family will be allowed to visit him without hardship.

Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools or by the latest reports.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for survivors and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

Mental health counselling and crisis support is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Hope for Wellness hotline at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.