'Something snapped in my head,' accused murderer told psychiatrist

Surrey grandmother Maria Catroppa, 69, was stabbed to death in 2009. Her husband, Sebastiano Damin, is currently on trial, charged with second-degree murder in connection with Catroppa
Surrey grandmother Maria Catroppa, 69, was stabbed to death in 2009. Her husband, Sebastiano Damin, is currently on trial, charged with second-degree murder in connection with Catroppa's death.
— image credit: Submitted

A bearded Sebastiano Damin sat hunched over in the prisoner's box in New Westminster Supreme Court Friday morning, his greying hair disheveled, and wearing headphones to help him hear the proceedings.

Charged with second-degree murder in connection with the stabbing death of his wife, Maria Catroppa, in Surrey in 2009, the elderly man listened while a psychiatrist testified about the conversation she had with him the day after the homicide.

Dr. Hemlata Joshi said when she met with Damin at Royal Columbian Hospital, he was pleasant and cooperative and didn't appear excessively agitated, though he looked sad.

"He was remorseful about what had happened," Joshi said. "He looked quite devastated ... and was worried about what was going to happen next."

Catroppa, 69, was found dead in the couple's townhouse in a gated complex near 85 Avenue and 164 Street on November 24, 2009. Damin was 74 at the time of the murder.

Damin told the psychiatrist that he and his wife of ten years had been having increasing marital troubles and arguments since January 2009 – which he said coincided with his depression getting worse.

The fights, he said, were mainly because he suffered from anxiety, didn't want to be alone and wanted his wife to stay home. Catroppa would grow frustrated, Damin said, because she was very social and wanted her freedom and independence.

"He said his wife would get quite angry and threaten to move out of the house," Joshi told the court.

On the day of the stabbing, Damin described to Joshi that he and Catroppa had argued "as usual" after supper and then went to bed. The couple slept in separate rooms and had for some time.

Damin claimed he had no thoughts of harming his wife and denied feeling angry when he went to sleep.

Joshi testified that the accused told her he awoke after about four hours and went to the kitchen for a drink of water.

"Something snapped in my head," he told Joshi, explaining how he then grabbed a knife and went to his wife's bedroom, where he stabbed her to death.

In earlier testimony, a forensic pathologist said Catroppa had been stabbed 126 times.

Damin told the psychiatrist that after the first few strikes, he didn't remember what happened.

The next memory he had was turning the knife on himself. After a couple of stabs to the neck and abdomen, he said to Joshi, he couldn't go through with killing himself and called 911, telling the operator he had killed his wife and tried to kill himself.

Damin called neighbours and told them the same thing, he said, and then lay down on the carpet in his home to wait for emergency personnel to arrive.

Joshi said when she questioned him, Damin denied repeatedly that murdering his wife was something he'd been thinking about for some time, but rather, "stated it was a thought that happened in the moment."

The trial continues.


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