A man who was originally sentenced to 15 years in prison for a fatal attack on an elderly Edmonton couple in 2016 has had his sentence increased.
In May 2019, Edward Kyle Roberts was sentenced to 15 years after pleading guilty to two counts of manslaughter in the September 2016 deaths of Joao Nascimento, 93, and Maria Nascimento, 81. Roberts also pleaded guilty to one count of break and enter with the intent to commit an indictable offence.
He was originally charged with first-degree murder in the couple’s death.
Roberts, now 35 years old, admitted to breaking in to the couple’s Queen Mary Park home and stabbing them to death. He used a steak knife that he stole from another home he broke into in the area.
Court heard that when Roberts was arrested by police, he was in a psychotic mental state after consuming “intoxicating substances.” However, the Crown and defence disagreed over whether mental illness also played a role in Roberts’ violent acts.
The Crown was seeking a sentence of 20 years, but ultimately the judge sentenced to Roberts to 15 years.
However, the Crown appealed the 15-year sentence, arguing the sentencing judge “erroneously characterized the crimes as a single transaction and failed to properly acknowledge there were two victims.”
The Crown also argued the sentencing judge erred in principle when considering Roberts’ mental state and that the sentence imposed was demonstrably unfit.
In a decision release Friday, the Alberta Court of Appeal said it was of the view that an increase in sentence is warranted “to properly serve the aims of deterrence and denunciation and to reflect Roberts’ moral culpability.”
The three-judge appeal panel agreed to increase the sentence on each count of manslaughter to 20 years, to be served concurrently.
Crown prosecutor Anders Quist called the 20-year sentence “much more appropriate.”
“It’s very gratifying seeing the Alberta Court of Appeal recognizing the huge difference between killing one person and killing two people,” he said via Skype Friday afternoon. “We think this sentence balances the guilty plea and the extreme intoxication against how truly horrible this was.
“High sentences don’t erase the crime and high sentences don’t really do much for the family who have lost. But at the same time, the ability of administration of justice to put people away who need to be put away and get to a result that makes sense is a keystone to our society and I’m just really pleased to see the outcome here.”
Quist went on to say that the crime was incredibly horrible for a lot of people, including the Nascimento family and the couple’s neighbour, who saw Roberts “sneaking around” in the back alley and tried to approach him on the day of the killings.
“(The neighbour) asked him what he was doing and was given some ridiculous excuse for why he was prowling around. The neighbour then tried to do the right thing — tried to discourage him, went and called the police — but he was unable to prevent what happened,” Quist said.
“He didn’t know how serious the situation was. There was no way he could know what was going to follow and I know that’s a terrible thing for him to think about.
“I know that haunts him.”