“Anthony, as a mother, I forgive you,” Deb Abrams told her son’s killer, during a heart-wrenching victim impact statement delivered in a London courtroom Friday afternoon.
Anthony George, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the beating death of his cell mate, Adam Kargus, looked up at her.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t forgive myself.”
“I know,” she replied, trembling. “I forgive you as a mother, so I can move forward.”
George was sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for ten years. That’s the minimum eligibility of parole, for a conviction that carries an automatic life sentence.
But the traditional man, a 32-year-old from the Kettle and Stoney Point First Nation, has already had a tough life.
His struggle with alcohol began when he was 11-years-old, after his parents split up. He moved away from the reservation to Sarnia with his mother, who a few months later he found hanging from the roof of their home’s basement.
Since being charged with second-degree murder, George has spent the past four years in solitary confinement in a variety of different institutions. At some, he was unable to access counselling programs, but at the South West Detention Centre in Windsor he completed 25 different courses ranging from ‘anger management’, to ‘being an effective father’, to ‘substance-use’.
“I want to better myself while I’m in, make myself a productive member of society instead of falling in the same old trap,” he told the judge.
He also expressed an interest in getting treatment for alcohol-use at Native Horizons Treatment Centre in New Credit, where he’d be able to connect with programs rooted in his own belief system.
Then, he addressed members of Kargus’s family.
“I considered Adam a friend… I was going to bring him into the crew.”
He talked about how he’d planned to look after the 29-year-old Sarnia man, that he’d told him to come down to his range. But then, drunk off a home-made brew of alcohol, he was denied a phone call by correctional officers, and he became angry. He’d also smoked a cigarette that night, found later to be reportedly laced with PCP.
“I’m not making excuses for my actions,” he said. “I’m not asking for your forgiveness, and I’ll probably never get it.”
“But I’m sorry for your loss.”
Although Kargus’s mother was able to offer the man forgiveness, Kargus’s aunt, Tina McCool, wasn’t ready to do the same.
“I thought I’d cried all my tears, and vented all my rage,” but in writing her statement discovered there was still anger and pain to be expressed.
Shane Kargus told George that his brother’s blood was on his hands, and that if he’d been a decent person at all, he’d have gotten to know Kargus, and would realize their family had native roots too.
But Kargus was an inmate at the wrong place, at the wrong time, said Justice Bruce Thomas in delivering his sentence.
“He was a captive in a cage. He was choked, punched, kicked, and stomped, until blunt force trauma… killed him,” he said.
Kargus’s body was found in the showers the next morning, wrapped in bloody clothing and bedding. He was so badly beaten, his face was unrecognizable.
“To suggest the murder was a brutal is a massive understatement,” Thomas continued.
“Adam Kargus did not stand a chance.”