Prison sentence increased to 20 years for Edmonton man who killed elderly couple

·2 min read

An Edmonton man who was convicted for manslaughter in the deaths of an elderly couple has had his sentence increased by five years.

Edward Roberts, 35, was serving a 15-year sentence for the deaths of Joao Nascimento, 93, and Maria Nascimento, 81 after he admitted to stabbing them to death in a random attack in September 2016.

Roberts was originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder, but he instead pleaded guilty in November 2018 to two counts of manslaughter and break and enter.

Last year, Roberts was sentenced to 15 years in jail for each manslaughter count and 10 years for break and enter to be served concurrently. On Friday, a three-judge panel ordered the 15-year sentence to increase on each count of manslaughter to 20 years, which was the sentence length the Crown asked for during the trial.

"We are of the view an increase in sentence is warranted to properly serve the aims of deterrence and denunciation and to reflect Roberts' moral culpability," the Court of Appeal of Alberta's decision said on Friday.

"We are limited to the sentence sought by the Crown below. The appeal is allowed and the sentences on each count of manslaughter are increased to 20 years, to be served concurrently."

The Crown appealed the original sentence, arguing that the sentencing judge characterized the crimes as a single event and that a 20-year sentence would better reflect the loss of two lives.

Roberts had confessed to breaking into Nascimentos' Queen Mary Park home and stabbing the couple while in a psychotic state. He was intoxicated by drugs and alcohol, and had binged on crystal meth in the week leading up to the killings.

At the time of the Nascimentos' death, Roberts thought he was destined to become a king and believed he had to kill everyone in a house to achieve that goal.

Expert consensus diagnosed Roberts with amphetamine, alcohol, cannabis and cocaine use disorders, according to the decision. They also confirmed a history of substance-induced psychosis from cannabis and methamphetamine.

During the Court of Appeal hearing in September, Roberts said he had reason to believe his life was in danger and he was in a psychotic state at the time.

"It wasn't exactly the drugs that led to that state of mind," Roberts said during the hearing. "It was more of an energy."

Stacey Purser, Roberts' defence lawyer, argued at the Court of Appeal hearing that Roberts' psychosis lowered his moral culpability, and that he was acting under the direction of various voices telling him to kill or be killed.