KAMLOOPS, B.C. – A B.C. father on trial in the deaths of his three children has confessed to their murders on a number of occasions, the Crown said on the first day of his trial.
In her opening statement to the court, Crown lawyer Sheri Mark told the judge hearing the case that Schoenborn’s defence lawyer won’t dispute that he’s confessed.
“The issue will revolve around the mental state of the accused at the time he killed the children,” Mark told the court Thursday.
Prosecutors say it wasn’t mental illness that led to the murders of 10-year-old Kaitlynne, eight-year-old Max and 5-year-old Cordon, who were discovered dead in their Merritt, B.C., home by their mother on April 6, 2008.
“The Crown contends this was an attack or some form of revenge on the mother. She has suffered greatly from the death of her children,” Crown lawyer Glenn Kelt told the judge, who is hearing the case without a jury.
He said the killings were planned and deliberate acts.
Mark described a gruesome scene in the trailer where the children lived with their mother. Kaitlynne had been stabbed to death. Cordon and Max were both suffocated.
Mark said evidence will show that the murders were conducted over a period of time.
The Crown wanted to play a 911 recording of the call the children’s mother made after finding their bodies. Kelt told court it is a “wrenching” tape of a call that shows how devastated Darcie Clarke was.
Schoenborn’s defence lawyer asked the judge not to play the call. The judge did not immediately rule on whether the recording will be played in open court.
Clarke has never spoken publicly about the murders but she is scheduled to testify at the trial.
Const. Lorraine Dillon, the first officer on the scene, told the judge that the 911 call was made, officers arrived to find Clarke hysterical at her home repeating over and over “my babies, my babies.”
Dillon said Clarke told her Schoenborn was the killer and that he was a paranoid schizophrenic.
Const. Michael Pears, who arrived minutes after Clarke made the emergency call, testified that they found the two boys “cuddled” together on the living room couch. The girl’s body was found wrapped in a bloody blanket in her bedroom in the back of the trailer.
Before the trial started Schoenborn, wearing a blue dress shirt and red prison-issue pants, quietly pleaded not guilty to each of the three counts of first-degree murder.
The deaths rocked the small ranching community of Merritt, located about 270 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.
There was a manhunt for Schoenborn, who remained a fugitive for a week before a local trapper found him, hungry and dehydrated in the woods.
Before the murders, Schoenborn had several run-ins with the law.
Police arrested him three times in the week before the murders, including for allegedly uttering threats at his children’s elementary school.
There was a restraining order restricting him from contact with his wife, although neighbours said Schoenborn had been staying with the family for about a week.
The trial, which is taking place in a Kamloops, B.C., courtroom, is scheduled to last about a month.