Loved ones of a woman who was murdered in Guelph by her own husband in July 2014 say they have lost an icon.
Stephan Dietrich was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 22 years for killing Seble “Mimi” Dietrich.
He previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and court heard the 46-year-old beat his wife to death with a shovel and then buried her in cement under the shed of the family’s home on Vancouver Street.
The 39-year-old’s body was not found until June 2015.
Ten victim impact statements were filed in court from family members, friends and others who attended Kitchener’s Meheret Evangelical Church with Seble.
The packed courtroom inside Guelph’s Superior Court of Justice heard she was the glue of her family and well-known within the Ethiopian community, both locally and in the African country where she is originally from.
“I never imagined that I would lose my sister [to] someone she had trusted and loved more than anything,” said Mimi’s sister, Helen Wondimagegnehu, who read her statement in court.
“The hardest thing for me is knowing the pain and fear that Mimi must have suffered at the time of her murder.”
Wondimagegnehu, who travelled from Seattle, fought back tears while describing her sister as someone with a big heart and a kind, gentle manner.
“It hurts a lot,” she said. “I hope it gets better, but I’m not confident.”
Court also heard their father died of a stroke following Mimi’s death, with their mother saying it was caused by grief and pain.
“For the rest of my life, I will feel the guilt that I wasn’t there when she needed me most,” said Tejitu Abay Etcha, who travelled from Ethiopia for the sentencing of her daughter’s killer.
“I would give anything to change places with Mimi, to take away the terror and pain she suffered that day.”
The sentencing was put forward in a joint submission by the Crown and defence that Justice Bruce Durno felt was appropriate.
For the most part, Dietrich remained silent up until Justice Durno asked if he had anything to say.
“There’s not much I can say. I’m sorry for whatever happened,” Dietrich said quietly.
The couple met in Germany in 1998, they were married in 1999 and had three children. The family moved to Guelph in 2010.
In May of 2014, Deitrich began an extra-marital affair with a woman from Toronto. It was revealed through text messages and internet search history that Dietrich planned to leave his wife.
Guelph police believe Seble was killed on July 10, 2014, during an argument over a phone bill.
In an agreed statement of facts, Dietrich appeared to try and cover up his wife’s murder — first by burying her in the backyard and then forging letters saying she had left the family for another man.
In the months that followed, Dietrich removed all of Mimi’s belongings and moved his new girlfriend into the house before his arrest.
Dietrich’s defence lawyer Gregory Leslie told the court that his client is remorseful and continues to have nightmares about the murder.
“If he could go back in time, this would have not happened,” Leslie said, noting Dietrich describes killing his wife as the worst day of his life.
Crown attorney Elizabeth Maguire shot back and said Dietrich has shown no remorse.
“The worst day of his life wasn’t when he killed his wife, it was the day he was arrested,” she said.
Dietrich will not be eligible for parole until 2037 when he is in his 60s. Since he is not a Canadian citizen, he may be sent back to Germany if he is ever released from prison.
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