OSHAWA, Ont. — The common-law wife of a Port Hope, Ont., man found murdered in his home pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder.
Catherine Andrus turned 53 years old on the day she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years for pummelling Michel Leblanc to death with an aluminum baseball bat.
She pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, but guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder.
Judge E.B. Minden called it a “vicious, callous, cowardly killing” of her common-law spouse of 16 years.
Leblanc, 53, was found dead inside their home — located about 100 km east of Toronto — on Sept. 24, 2009, after emergency services were called shortly after 8 a.m.
Court heard how Andrus’ teenage son found Leblanc in a bedroom the morning after he celebrated his 16th birthday.
Although no motive was given for the murder, court heard the couple had financial problems, which included Andrus’ gambling problem.
Andrus confessed to an undercover officer that she had killed Leblanc.
Crown attorney Brad Kelneck said the bedroom was staged to look like a home invasion with personal items missing, including Leblanc’s wallet.
The items were later found in the van that Andrus was driving and in her locker.
She would have received $370,000 following Leblanc’s death, from two life insurance policies and his pension.
Family and friends read victim impact statements in court.
Brother and sister Robert and Carole Leblanc spoke of their love for their brother and how their trust in people is gone.
“Mike was kind, thoughtful, loving and funny.
“We thought you loved him just as much as he loved you, but we were wrong about that.”
They ended their statement with a message to Andrus.
“You said at his funeral that one day you and Mike will be together again. We know that this is not true because our brother is up in heaven.”
In her final words to the court before being led away, Andrus said she pleaded guilty because she is responsible.
“I have no desire to put you through an ugly trial,” she said.
To the Leblanc family she said, “I will not be so bold to ask for your forgiveness.”
Andrus will be eligible for parole on Sept. 13, 2022.