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Accused in Taber homicide case receives seven year sentence

Posted on August 6, 2014 by Taber Times

A woman accused in Taber’s first homicide in more than a decade has pled guilty to manslaughter.

Trina Michelle Thomas will serve a seven and a half year sentence following the acceptance of a joint submission by Judge P.G. Pharo on Aug. 6.

Thomas, 28, tendered her plea in Taber provincial court via CCTV from the Lethbridge Correctional Centre. The accused had originally been charged with a single count of second-degree murder following a deadly incident at a residence in Taber’s downtown area on the night of March 14, 2014, which left a 47 year old victim, Howard Sakebow, dead from a fatal stab wound to the upper chest.

According to Crown prosecutor Michael Fox, about 3 p.m. on March 14 the accused had arrived at the victim’s home and initiated a period of heavy drinking with the victim and other witnesses present at the residence located at the 5200 block of 48th Avenue in Taber. The group had continued drinking for roughly six hours before an argument broke out between Thomas and the victim, during which Sakebow had pushed the accused to the ground and held her there for a period of minutes.

Fox indicated that immediately following this altercation, according to witnesses Thomas had seized kitchen knives in both hands and began making “punching motions” in the direction of Sakebow, stabbing him once in the upper left chest area below the collarbone, and perforating the left lung and pulmonary artery, after which the victim collapsed to the ground in critical medical distress.

Shortly after 9 p.m., officers of the Taber Police Service responded to the residence following a 9-1-1 call placed from a nearby licenced establishment by one of the witnesses that had been present in the home. The victim was found lying on his back in a pool of blood. Officers attempted CPR before the arrival of EMS, who pronounced Howard Sakebow dead at the scene.  

The accused, who had remained at the scene in a hallway of the building prior to police arrival, was taken into custody without incident and later charged with a single count of second degree murder. A young child, who belonged to Thomas, was at the residence at the time and was taken into the care of Children’s Services.

As a preface to the joint submission, Fox pointed out that justice in cases such as this is often only cold comfort to a victim’s surviving family members.

“There’s no sentence this court can impose that will bring back Howard Sakebow,” said Fox.

Fox went on to state the accused had been convicted of over 30 previous Criminal Code offences, some involving violence, including aggravated assault in 2006 for which she had received an 18 month sentence.

Four members of the Sakebow family made victim-impact statements, during which Thomas appeared to show remorse, becoming emotional while staring at the floor and often covering her face with her hand.

As mitigating factors in sentencing, Judge Pharo noted Thomas had not tried to flee or make any attempt to disturb the crime scene, had asked others to phone 9-1-1, and had remained at the residence until the arrival of police. Judge Pharo also took into consideration the stabbing itself was an impulsive act which had inflicted only one wound, although fatal.

“This is truly a tragic situation, and there’s nothing this court can do to bring back Mr. Sakebow,” said Judge Pharo.

The original charge of second degree murder against the accused had previously been scheduled for a preliminary inquiry from July 28-31, which was ultimately cancelled. That charge has now been stayed in accordance with a request of the Crown.

Thomas will be prohibited from owning any firearms for life, and was ordered to surrender a sample of her DNA for the National DNA Data Bank. Judge Pharo also issued a $200 victim-fine surcharge.

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