A Sylvan Lake man pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Red Deer court Tuesday morning for strangling his wife during an argument in September 2019.
Satnam Singh Sandhu, 42, got into a fight with his wife, Kulvinder Sandhu, 36, at their Sylvan Lake home on the morning of Sept. 11, 2019. During the altercation, he choked her unconscious and then pushed her. When she fell she hit her head on a heater.
Satnam called 911 and told them he had killed his wife. They advised him how to perform CPR until help arrived.
When police showed up minutes later, they found Kulvinder lying on the kitchen floor. Satnam Sandhu was arrested at the scene.
EMS arrived and a paramedic at first found no pulse in Kulvinder but performed CPR and got a pulse back. A second EMS unit arrived and transferred Kulvinder to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, where she had to be revived again.
She was declared brain dead two days later and taken off life support the following day.
An autopsy determined she had died from strangulation-related injuries that had cut off oxygen to her brain. Neck injuries showed enough force was used to make her lose consciousness. Dozens of other abrasions and bruises were also found on her body.
In a victim impact statement, Kulvinder and Satnam’s son told Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Anne Kirker that his mother meant everything to him.
“She was always there for me,” he said. “From the time she left this world everything hasn’t felt the same.”
The 15-year-old, who is now living with relatives, said the family has no respect for Satnam and are worried he might pose a threat when he gets out of prison.
His father, who had shown little emotion as he watched the proceedings, hung his head in the prisoner’s dock as his son read his statement and sobbed at one point.
Crown prosecutor Bruce Ritter asked the judge for a sentence in the mid- to higher-end in a range of seven to 12 years. In making his submission, he listed in detail the lengthy list of injuries the medical examiner had identified on Kulvinder’s body.
Ritter said it was a “matter of common sense” that choking someone and blocking their airway was likely to cause life-threatening injuries.
Everything said in court was repeated in Punjabi for Satnam by an interpreter.
Defence lawyer Dan Murphy asked for a sentence of four years. He pointed out that the couple had both been physical during the fight.
Kulvinder began the altercation when she grabbed her husband by the neck over an argument over $1,000 he had spent on a friend. At one point, she tried to hit him with a frying pan but the handle broke. Both had their hands on each other’s neck shortly before she lost consciousness.
Murphy said Satnam knew he behaved recklessly when he choked her and his actions were likely to cause serious injury but he did not expect the outcome would be fatal.
Sandhu is remorseful and accepts responsibility for the tragedy. But he should not be put in the same category as people who attacked others knowing it could lead to death.
Murphy said Sandhu came to Canada from India in 2001 and members of his family followed. He married his wife two years later and sponsored her parents and two brothers to come to Canada.
He first lived in Edmonton but moved to Red Deer in 2004 and the couple’s only child was born in 2005.
Justice Kirker is expected to sentence Sandhu on Friday.