Toronto man sent to prison after strangling wife in front of toddler, leaving her to die
Angel Payan Almendarez, 22, of Toronto, is seen in this photograph provided by Toronto police.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 27, 2019 12:49PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 27, 2019 12:54PM EST
TORONTO -- A Toronto man who tried to kill his estranged wife in front of their three-year-old son has been sentenced to nine years in prison, with a judge saying it was sheer luck that the woman survived.
Angel Payan-Almendarez, 25, said he has no memory of strangling his wife, covering her head with packing tape and leaving her to die on Dec. 8, 2015. The woman and her son, however, haven't been able to forget what happened, court heard.
"The young child is constantly worried about losing his mom based on what he saw his dad do," Justice John McMahon said in his sentencing decision this week. "To this day he remains fearful of the accused. They still relive the nightmare of what they saw."
The trial took 15 minutes, court heard, because Payan-Almendarez did not challenge the prosecution's case. The judge noted, however, that the victim came very close to dying.
"It is clearly by luck, not design, that the victim survived and the accused is not charged with murder," McMahon said.
An agreed statement of facts was admitted as evidence before the judge found Payan-Almendarez guilty of attempted murder, unlawful confinement and break and enter.
Court heard that the man and his wife were separated when he showed up at her apartment in north Toronto at 7 a.m. that morning to drop off a car seat. The pair had agreed Payan-Almendarez would leave the car seat outside the apartment.
She thanked him by text and didn't answer when he began calling her repeatedly, court heard. He then left a message saying he wanted to talk and banged on the door, prompting her to ask him to leave, court heard.
The woman called a fellow member of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses for help, who then contacted a woman who lived nearby, court heard. Christine Rieck came to her friend's door around 9 a.m. and noticed a shadow behind a door to the stairwell. She entered the apartment and helped get her friend's son ready, court heard.
At that point, Rieck drafted a text to her husband asking him to come to the apartment. She, her friend and the toddler opened the door to leave the apartment at 10 a.m. when Payan-Almendarez burst inside and locked the door behind him, court heard.
Rieck quickly sent the drafted text to her husband before Payan-Almendarez slapped the phone out of her hand and smashed it on the ground.
"I've changed," Payan-Almendarez then told his wife as their son began to cry, according to the agreed statement of facts.
Payan-Almendarez went on to force Rieck onto the apartment's balcony.
He then forced his wife into the bedroom, threw her on the bed, jumped on top of her and began strangling her, court heard. Their son, who was watching, began to cry again.
Court heard the boy's mother didn't want to frighten her child so she didn't struggle but lost consciousness.
Payan-Almendarez then took his son out to the balcony and locked him outside with Rieck.
He returned to the bedroom where his wife had opened her eyes. Payan-Almendarez again jumped on top of her, using his forearm to press down on her throat, court heard, causing her to lose consciousness again.
Payan-Almendarez wrapped the woman's head with plastic packing tape, covering her nose and mouth, court heard.
He then covered her body with a blanket and put a child's bed on top of her before leaving, taking her keys and cellphone with him, court heard.
His son and Rieck remained locked out on the balcony until Rieck's husband arrived and got building superintendents to free the pair, the trial heard. As they moved through the apartment the superintendents noticed a purple object on a bed that they thought was a toy -- when they moved it, they realized it was Payan-Almendarez's wife's hand.
"(Her) face was completely flattened by the tightness of the packing tape," the agreed facts said. "She was at that time unrecognizable. They thought she was dead."
The woman regained consciousness after a hole was cut in the tape near her mouth, court heard. She was then taken to hospital where she was treated for bruises, cuts, dizziness and pain in her chest, back, throat and mouth.
Payan-Almendarez will serve nearly five years behind bars after receiving credit for time already spent in custody.