In an Edmonton courtroom Wednesday, convicted murderer Silva Koshwal leaned back in the prisoner’s box, eyes closed, head resting against the wooden wall behind him. Later, the prosecutor said it was “like he was sitting at the beach enjoying the sun.”
Koshwal faces an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for ten to 25 years for stabbing his former girlfriend Nadine Skow more than 100 times, then removing some of her organs.
He was found guilty in August of second-degree murder and offering an indignity to a dead body.
The lawyers were at polar opposites of the sentencing range Wednesday afternoon in Court of Queen’s Bench as they made their submissions.
“The accused is an unrepentant and dangerous man who has been convicted of a brutal killing,” prosecutor Laurie Trahan told the court, as she requested a period of parole ineligibility of 20 to 25 years.
Trahan said the crime scene was so horrific, at least one of the responding police officers had to take stress leave. She described the murder as senseless, callous and brutal.
Koshwal and Skow were romantically involved for three years, but broke up in October 2014.
Aug. 23, 2015, was the last day Skow, 38, was seen alive. Police believe Skow was attacked while she was lying on her back on her bed in a central Edmonton apartment.
Of the 101 stab wounds, the medical examiner determined 63 of them occurred while she was still alive.
Neighbours heard screams from the apartment for at least 30 minutes, but no one called the police.
After she was dead, Koshwal removed her heart, lung, uterus and ovary.
“First he butchered her. Then after her death he eviscerated her,” Trahan said. “This was an offence of significant gratuitous violence.”
‘I didn’t know how this happened’
Defence lawyer Peter Royal noted Koshwal, 43, has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Royal suggested a period of parole ineligibility in the range of ten to 12 years.
“He thinks voodoo witchcraft is going to kill him,” Royal said. “He thinks voodoo has already affected him — that something is growing inside his leg.”
Koshwal was born in South Sudan and came to Canada in 1997. He has been a landed immigrant for 22 years and will automatically face deportation upon completion of his sentence.
“He’s indicated to me he expects to die upon his return,” Royal said. “He has concerns about that.”
Royal told the court Koshwal remembers Skow fondly and is still confused and sad about her death.
“He still does not understand how he could have done this,” Royal said.
Justice Sterling Sanderman gave Koshwal the chance to address the court.
In a low and halting voice, Koshwal offered his condolences to Skow’s family and friends.
“For years I’ve been thinking how I did it,” Koshwal said “I didn’t know how this happened.”
‘May you rot in hell’
Sixteen victim impact statements poured out the anger, heartache and profound sense of loss Skow’s friends and family members feel. They are haunted by the way she died.
“I never thought a crime this violent could happen in Canada,” her cousin Chantel Hartl wrote. “It’s hard to comprehend how someone could be so cruel to another human being.”
Skow’s childhood friend called Koshwal a monster, wishing him long, lonely, terrifying days in prison.
“I hope you are overwhelmed with anxiety and pain and may you be haunted by your evil actions and when the devil does come for your soul, may you rot in hell,” Maxine Ressler said as she glared at Koshwal in the prisoner’s box.
Koshwal has a biological son who is now 14. He thought of Skow as his stepmother.
CBC News is not naming the boy’s biological mother to protect the child. In her victim impact statement, she revealed that a year after the murder, her son began taking antidepressants. She said that once she found a suicide note in his backpack and noted that he self harms.
“My son carries guilt,” she wrote. “He wonders how his father could do this. “He’s terrified that maybe he may turn out like his dad.”
Koshwal will be sentenced Thursday morning.