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Surrey senior found guilty in stabbing death of wife

A Surrey senior has been convicted of second-degree murder for slaying his wife in 2009.

Sebastiano Damin was on trial in B.C. Supreme Court for the fatal stabbing of Maria Catroppa.

Catroppa, 69 (pictured below), was found dead in the couple's townhouse in a gated complex near 85 Avenue and 164 Street on Nov. 24, 2009. Damin was 74 at the time of the murder. They had been married for about 10 years – the second marriage for both of them.

Maria CatroppaDuring the trial in New Westminster Supreme Court in April, a psychiatrist testified that Damin told her that he and his wife had been having escalating marital troubles and Catroppa wanted him to leave.

He said that on the day of the stabblng, the pair had gone to bed in separate rooms as usual. But when he got up in the middle of the night to get a drink, "something snapped" in his head, he told the psychiatrist, and he took a knife into his wife's bedroom and stabbed her. After the first few strikes, he said, he didn't remember what happened.

A forensic pathologist testified Catroppa had been stabbed 126 times.

Damin said he tried to kill himself, but couldn't go through with it, and instead called 911.

The defense had wanted a conviction of manslaughter, but Justice Ian Josephson found Damin exhibited the "requisite intent" for a second-degree murder conviction.

"He believed his wife was going to cause that much-feared separation," Josephson said Thursday in his written reasons for judgment. "This made him very angry, and that anger motivated the knife attack on the victim.

"Unfortunately, it is not uncommon in situations of domestic violence to see physical attacks on a spouse motivated by anger at an unwanted separation."

Family and friends of Catroppa cheered and hugged and gave one another high fives after hearing the court decision.

Catroppa's eldest daughter Jay Tuason said though nothing will bring her mother back, "as a family, it is important for us to make sense of it. It's important for us to see other women helped."

Catroppa's children have created a university endowment for women in their mother's name.

"Mom was one of those women you'd never suspect of being abused," said daughter Giuseppiana Osterman. "She was very devoted as a wife."

Catroppa's daughters, who both wear gold lockets around their necks with their mom's photo, said their mother is like many women, who stay in abusive relationships until it's too late.

The Maria Catroppa Memorial Award Fund at Kwantlen Polytechnic University aims to help single mothers further their education.

"Although Maria fought adversity during her life," reads a description of the award, "she did not let it define her; instead, she shared her heart and her home with all who entered. She demonstrated love, determination, and perseverance throughout her life and believed that education was the key to success."

To donate to the Maria Catroppa Memorial Award Fund, or to learn more about it, phone 604-599-2010.

"Mom' life mattered," said Tuason. "Every woman's life matters."

Damin will be sentenced June 10.

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