More than six years after a 61-year-old woman was found dead in her Guelph, Ont., home, her son has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Larry Kemp appeared in a virtual courtroom on Monday afternoon and entered his guilty plea.
His mother, Patsy Lewis, was found dead by police in her home on Gordon Street near Clair Road on Sept. 30, 2014.
Kemp was arrested by Guelph police in November 2018 and charged with second-degree murder in connection to her death.
During his court appearance, Kemp pleaded not guilty through his lawyer to second-degree murder but guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
A prison sentence of 10 years was agreed upon between Kemp and the Crown.
Kemp has remained in custody since his arrest and received credit for the time he has already served, meaning there are just under seven years remaining in his sentence.
An agreed statement of facts was read out in court and detailed that Kemp and Lewis did not have a positive mother-child relationship and that they both abused each other, verbally and physically.
On the day Lewis was killed, court heard, she and Kemp had been drinking at her home and got into an argument which escalated to the point where Lewis came at him with a knife.
Kemp kicked the knife out of her hand and wrestled his mother to the kitchen floor but began punching her in the head. He then took the knife and stabbed Lewis in the neck before slitting her throat.
He then cleaned the knife with bleach and threw away some of the clothing he was wearing at the time.
“The accused admits that his conduct in law did not amount to self-defence,” said Crown attorney Thomas Meehan who read the agreed statement of facts. “His actions were grossly excessive,”
Court also heard Kemp had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression, and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia after killing his mother.
At the time, he was not taking medication for his mental health issues but instead was self-medicating with alcohol.
Meehan said it would have been difficult to secure a conviction for murder due to Kemp’s mental illness, which is why the charge was withdrawn and replaced with manslaughter.
Lewis’ niece defended her aunt during the sentencing, telling court in her victim impact statement that there was no evidence of her being abusive towards Kemp.
“Your mother was a victim. You weren’t. She loved, and would have done anything for you, and for anyone,” said Connie Marangwanda.
“You vilified her and made her out to be a monster. You are the monster. She was an abused woman her whole life.”
Kemp was also given the chance to address court before he was formally sentenced.
He described his mother’s death as the “worst tragedy” that was caused by a combination of factors.
“I am very sad and remorseful,” Kemp said. “The only one who has said or done anything to make this remotely better has been my psychiatrist, who said ‘I’m sorry for your loss.'”
Along with the sentence, Kemp must also submit his DNA to a registry and is prohibited from owning weapons for the rest of his life.