|Jessica Riopelle's body was found at the Swiss Inn motel in Ottawa. (Submitted Photo)
OTTAWA — Karen Riopelle says she wishes she had been murdered instead of her daughter Jessica.
"I just can't find a way to come to terms with the idea of never seeing my baby again. I am screaming inside," she said. "I have so often wished that I could have been murdered instead of Jessica, as death would be so much easier than enduring this life without her."
The Riopelles and friends packed a courtroom on Friday for the sentencing of her killer, Patrick Dunac.
Dunac, 35, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the second-degree murder of Jessica Riopelle, 23, at a south end motel in March 2011. He struck her 16 times with a hammer and cut her throat five times with a box cutter.
"Jessica is gone and I take responsibility. Please believe I did not in any way want this to happen," Dunac told Riopelle's family in court. "I want to say sorry again for your pain and loss. I know it is much too soon, but I hope one day in the future, you will accept my humble apologies."
Members of Riopelle's family spoke of their struggles and how their world fell apart following the murder.
"Our families were thrown into a world of darkness and evil by the actions of one man," Karen Riopelle said in a victim impact statement. "And there are no words to truly express the torture and pain we hold in our hearts since our most treasured and loved Jessica was taken from us that night."
Dunac was a handyman at the Swiss Inn, where Jessica, an exotic dancer, was staying. The pair barely knew each other when the brutal events of March 24, 2011, unfolded.
They spent the day together, intoxicated and arguing.
Riopelle was later found dead in Dunac's shower.
Judge Albert Roy told Dunac he should have time in prison to reflect on the horrific murder.
"There is nothing in your criminal record which would predict you could become so violent, for apparently no reason," Roy said. "When you're serving your life sentence, you'll have time to think about that."
The Riopelles vowed to be at every parole hearing to make sure Dunac, whom they described as a "monster," never has the opportunity to put another family through hell.