Her son dead after a horrifying home invasion, Imelda Adao offered his convicted killers a message of forgiveness and sympathy Friday.
"I believe in God," Adao said, her voice choked with tears, her husband Jaime by her side. "God is love and you have to forgive. How can God forgive me my sin if I am not able to forgive also?"
Seventeen-year-old Jaime Adao Jr. was stabbed to death on March 3, 2019, after Ronald Bruce Chubb and Geordie Delmar James, both high on meth, broke into his family’s McGee Street home looking for property to steal.
Adao’s death sent shock waves throughout Winnipeg’s tight-knit Filipino community, where his parents were well-known as the owners of Jimel’s Bakery.
Chubb, who wielded the knife, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years. James pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years.
"We got justice and our son’s life is not in vain," Imelda said outside court. "This is one of the hardest days of our lives… We have to face now the reality that he is no longer with us."
Court was told that Jaime, a student at Tec Voc High School, and his 76-year-old grandmother were on the second floor of the home when the two men broke in through a back door around 9 p.m. and started rummaging through the main floor and basement for items to steal.
Jamie was on the phone to 911 when Chubb, armed with a kitchen knife, found him hiding in his room. The sounds of the their struggle were caught on the 911 call.
"Jamie was just a child… trapped in his bedroom," Crown attorney Vanessa Gama told Queen’s Bench Justice Glenn Joyal. "It’s the stuff horror movies are made of. The fear in this boy’s voice had a profound impact on the 911 operator who took the call."
Chubb had already stabbed the teen fatally in the back when police arrived and demanded he drop the knife. When he refused, police shot Chubb in the chest and arm.
James, who was downstairs when police interrupted Chubb’s attack, fled out the back door. He was arrested three weeks later.
Chubb and James, both originally from Gods Lake First Nation, had troubled upbringings marked by violence and substance abuse.
Chubb, 31, witnessed his brother being slain in front of him when he was 13. His mother died of alcohol poisoning and he has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and "mild mental retardation," Gama said.
James, 36, has a lengthy record of violent offences, frequently tied to his substance abuse.
Both men admitted responsibility for the killing as part of a plea bargain with the Crown. Had the case gone to trial, Chubb could have argued he was guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter due to his intoxication, Gama said.
"The significance of not putting (Jaime’s parents) through a trial in this matter is something the Crown took into consideration," she said. When told that the men would be pleading guilty to the killing, "they broke down in tears and thanked God that they would never have to hear that 911 call again."
James pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds he and Chubb entered the home with a "common intention" knowing there was a risk of bodily harm, Gama said.
"In the circumstances of this particular case, Mr. James never went upstairs (where the killing took place)… never laid a hand on the victim," she said.
Jaime’s parents immigrated to Canada in 2005, "determined to succeed," believing it was safer than their home country, Imelda told court in a victim impact statement.
"This place did not prove enough protection from bad people," she said.
Jaime’s parents described him as a caring, considerate young man who hoped to one day take over the family bakery and own a hotel so he could provide jobs for people.
Jaime might still be alive, had his killers experienced the same love and support he did while growing up, Imelda said.
"When I heard their story, I felt so sorry for them also because if they felt love since their childhood, they are not going to do such things like that in their lives," she said.
"I keep praying that no more families will experience the kind of pain that we have, because it is haunting us. It will be forever, no cure for this. We waited for 15 years to have our son and in a flash, they took it away."
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.