Andrus pleads guilty to second-degree murder
PETE FISHER Northumberland Today An OPP, right and Port Hope Police officer, left lead Catherine Andrus away after she murdered her common-law husband in September 2009. She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in an Oshawa court on Tuesday.
The common-law wife of a Port Hope man found murdered in his home pleaded guilty to second degree murder in a Oshawa courtroom.
Catherine Andrus turned 53 years old on the day she was sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 12 years in a joint submission to the court.
She pleaded not guilty to first degree murder, but guilty to the lesser charge of second degree murder.
Justice E.B. Minden called called it a “vicious, callous, cowardly killing” of her common law spouse of 16 years.
Michel Leblanc, 53, was found dead inside their home on Sept. 24, 2009 at 3 Pochon Avenue after emergency services were called shortly after 8 a.m.
Court heard how Andrus’ teenage son is the one who found Leblanc inside a bedroom the morning after he celebrated his 16th birthday.
Minden said Andrus “pummelled her common law spouse to death” with a aluminum baseball bat.
An autopsy showed at least five blows the head and “any of the five blows could have killed him.”
Although no reason was given for the killing, court heard that the couple did suffer from financial difficulties, including Andrus’ gambling problem.
During the investigation into the murder, an undercover officer, led Andrus to a confession and she was arrested shortly thereafter.
Although Leblanc was under the impression from Andrus he was getting $5,000 in taxes back from the government, court heard he actually owed that much in taxes.
She also gave the impression to friends and family she was being treated for breast cancer.
Crown Attorney Brad Kelneck said the deception went on for months.
On the day of the killing, the 16-year-old son was getting ready for school when he went into the couple’s bedroom and found his father’s lifeless body.
Kelneck said the bedroom was staged to look like a home invasion with personal items including Leblanc’s wallet missing.
The items were later found in the van that Andrus was driving and in her locker.
Kelneck read from the statement of facts stating “it appeared Leblanc was asleep in bed and taken by surprise.”
Andrus removed her clothing as she anticipated it would be a bloody attack before committing the murder. She had a shower and used paper towels to clean up before discarding the bat and towels in a ditch. The murder weapon has never been found.
From two life insurance policies, along with the pension, she would have received $370,000 following Leblanc’s death.
Court heard how the murder may have been the financial motivation for Andrus.
“It’s a second degree murder, but a first degree tragedy,” Kelneck stated to the courtroom filled with friends and relatives of both Leblanc and Andrus.
Victim impact statements were read by the family of the best friend and family of Leblanc.
“Miche’ was our friend and like a brother to Sam,” read Corrine Marmora whose husband was best friends with the murdered man.
“Sam is lost without him. His world is shattered.”
“His life was taken way too early be a senseless act of violence.”
“We will always miss our gentle giant, but know he will be waiting for us when it is our time to go.”
Brother and sister Robert and Carole Leblanc spoke of their love for their brother and how their trust in people is gone.
“Mike was kind, thoughtful, loving and funny.
“We thought you loved him just as much as he loved you, but we were wrong about that.”
His most favourite thing in life was being a grandfather and you managed to take that away from him.”
“Our mother raised us to never use the word “hate” in a hateful way. I believe she would allow us to use it now because of what you have done to our family.”
They ended their statement with a message to Andrus.
“You said at his funeral that one day you and Mike will be together again. We know that this is not true because our brother is up in Heaven.”
Leblanc’s daughter, Tami O’Connor said, “We no longer get to build new memories.”
“Dad had a presence when he was in a room, and life has become a lot quieter since he’s been gone.”
“Your life changes in a massive way when someone you trust, love and respect betrays you with murder.”
Leblanc’s other daughter Tina Walters explained in her statement, that Andrus meant to take him away from his children, grandchildren, family and friends.
“We will never get to spend another second with my dad, my children will grow up never knowing him.”
“My dad will never get another chance at life, but the person who took his life will. Sometimes life just isn’t fair, this is one of those times!
In her final words to the court before being lead away, Andrus said the reason why she pleaded guilty is she is responsible - and her love for everyone involved.
“I have no desire to put you through an ugly trial.”
To the Leblanc family she stated, “I will not be so bold to ask for your forgiveness.”
But added when she is released she will not return to either Port Hope or Cobourg.
“For everyone effected by my actions from the bottom of my heart I am so very sorry.”
Andrus will be eligible for parole on Sept. 13, 2022.
She was also ordered to give a DNA sample and a lifetime firearms prohibition ban.