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UPDATE: Killing spouse nets less than five years in jail

June 05, 2014 - 11:48 AM


KAMLOOPS - A local man was sentenced to less than five years in jail—two years before he is out prison—after admitting he must have killed his common-law wife.

Gerald Peters, 50, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2012 stabbing of his common-law wife, Deborah Joseph, though says he was too drunk to remember doing it.

Kamloops Supreme Court Justice Selwyn Romilly took Peters’ troubling past and history of alcoholism into account in sentencing him to four years, five months and eight days. He's already served most of that sentence waiting for this result. He has roughly two years left to serve.  

Peters was originally charged with first degree murder after he was found intoxicated in his residence on October 20, 2012. His common law wife, Deborah Joseph, was found dead in the living room with a fatal stab wound to her chest.

Peters had Joseph’s blood on his shirt.

When officers arrested him, Peters was incoherent – asking police what happened.

Witnesses said Peters and Joseph were getting along previously on the day of the murder. They discussed buying a truck with the money Joseph would receive as a residential school survivor. Both spoke of plans to marry.

The day changed soon after Joseph and Peters decided to take an unknown quantity of mouthwash from Cooper’s foods. They had plans to drink the mouthwash as a replacement for alcohol.

Original Listerine mouthwash has an alcohol concentration of 26.9 per cent.

Peters and Joseph drank the mouthwash and ran into a friend, Shannon Burrell, who they asked for a ride home.

Although she didn’t have a car, Burrell asked another friend of hers, Arthur David McKellar to provide a ride to Peters and Joseph. The two drove the couple home to Peters’ house. According to McKellar – the two were “pretty drunk.”

Burrell and McKellar were the last two to see Joseph alive.

After her return home, Joseph made phone calls to her friend Sherry Peters to help her find her cat and to pick up some cigarettes. Joseph left Sherry three voicemail messages – the last one at 6:03 p.m.

At some point between 6:03 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. Peters killed Joseph by stabbing her in the chest with a kitchen knife.

Sherry received Joseph’s phone messages and came to the house to drop the cigarettes on the front porch. She tried calling to no avail and left.

Later on, she returned to Peters' residence and found the cigarettes where she left them. She entered the house and says she found Peter on the floor, looking "starry-eyed."

Sherry and the arresting officer reported Peters as intoxicated. He says he does not remember killing Joseph – but pleaded guilty by acknowledging responsibility for her death.

Romilly accepted Peters' guilty plea, his lack of memory and remorse from that night.

His judgment included Peters’ earlier statement to the courts as an example of his remorse for Joseph’s death.

“I have to live with what happened that night and not remembering hurts even more,” Peters said. “I would like to make amends with [Joseph’s] family and mine while I’m in prison.”

In his sentencing, Romilly acknowledged Peters’ 'tragic Aboriginal background' which included Peters, his parents, and eight siblings attending the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Romilly cited Peters’ history of alcoholism and its presence in his family. Peters has been an alcoholic since he was young. His parents died of alcohol poisoning after consuming paint thinner.

Most of Peters’ siblings are either alcoholics or ex-alcoholics.

Romilly handed out a paper copy of his judgment to all members of the gallery, which included Peters’ family members who were present in all court proceedings.

Regarding mouthwash, Peters says in his statement: “I’m not even gonna wash my mouth out with it ever and I know now that I can’t drink any kind of alcohol. I can’t drink period.”

As he was escorted out of the courtroom, Peters’ family members called out to tell him they loved him. Peters waved back.

With his credited time since his arrest in 2012, Peters will serve the last two years of his sentence at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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