When you supervise murder cases for a living there are a few things you just have to accept. The first one, murders often happen at inconvenient times.
Times like March 21, 2010 at 12:04 am.
A time when most folks are snuggled in their warm beds in deep slumber. It also happened to be the date my ten (10) year old son was born. A quick shower and a quiet apology for another missed family event would be all I’d have time for before I headed downtown to lead the investigation.
When the phone rang I was relieved to hear the voice of Patrol Sergeant Al Bradbury on the other end of the line, a fortunate stroke of luck that I considered the first break in the case. If Bradbury was running the show you could expect things were going to be run right. Crime scenes will be properly taped off, witnesses will be sequestered and suspect (s) will be handled according to the rule book.
I arrived at the Public Safety Building at 12:45 am and started the usual process of gathering information from the front line patrol officers who were first on scene. It was apparent from the start this case was not going to be a “whodunit”. I would learn that a 911 call was placed to dispatch by a suspect with a thick accent who hung up the phone after simply stating, “Send Police.” On ringback, the dispatcher managed to extract more detail and deciphered enough information to ascertain the man on the other end of the phone had seriously injured his wife.
The first officers on scene reported entering the suite and immediately observing blood on the floor near the area inside the door. After traversing the doorway the officers observed the bludgeoned body of the deceased victim who would be subsequently identified as Ludmila Kapsik-59 yrs, wife of the suspect. The crime scene was both shocking and grotesque. A blood soaked hammer was observed on the floor resting by the victims lower body and was easily determined to be the murder weapon. A significant amount of brain matter had been violently projected from the victim’s head in what was clearly a savage beating. A substantial amount of high velocity projected blood was also observed on the living room walls and on clothing found inside the suite. In stark contrast, Kapsik was found to be sitting calmly on a sofa near the lifeless body of his wife. It was apparent he took the time to change his clothes and clean himself up prior to calling the Police.
Kapsik was subsequently transported to the Public Safety Building and turned over the Homicide Investigators.
When you supervise a Homicide case your primary purpose is to answer the five W’s of police investigation, the Who, What, When, Where & Why’s. In this case, the only thing left to answer was the “why” question. The task to find out would be delegated to Homicide Detectives Wes Rommel & William “Bill” Kehler, two seasoned Police interrogators who had proven to be one of our “go to” teams.
The interrogation would provide us with information that Kapsik and his wife were married in 1974 and came to Canada in 1976 immigrating from the Czech Republic. They had no children and their only family resided in their home Country. Kapsik had been on disability in recent years and was taking a number of different medications for a variety of issues. Of concern was Kapsik’s disclosure that he heard voices. This kind of disclosure has the potential of subverting a criminal prosecution and morphing into an NCR or “not criminally responsible” finding. The burden of exploring this issue falls squarely on the interrogators shoulders. In this case, Kapsik indicated the voices he heard didn’t tell him to do anything, they only made it difficult for him to think. He also admitted he hit his wife many times, but had never hit her in the past. His most import admission was he knew that hitting her was wrong.
They killing itself was reminiscent of an ambush in that Kapsik advised he armed himself with a hammer and attacked his wife from behind initially striking her in the back of the head. He then proceeded to beat her until she was virtually unrecognizable.
These disclosures made me confident that Mr Kapsik was not suffering from a mental illness that diminished his criminal responsibility for the brutal murder of his wife.
The frustrating thing was that he stoically refused to answer the “why” question.
Sadly, the motive for the killing would remain unknown.
If the crime scene wasn’t horrific enough, the autopsy confirmed the “over the top” nature of the murderous attack on Ludmila Kapsik. The cause of death was reported as “Blunt force trauma to the head,” with a reported minimum of fifty-seven (57) hammer strikes to her skull. Evidence also existed indicating the victim suffered defensive injuries to her forearms, hands and elbows.
In my opinion, this was a fairly typical case of a Domestic Violence murder. The accused stood 6′ tall and weighed 166 pounds. The victim stood 5’2″ and weighed 117 pounds. With a distinct height and weight advantage, the male dominant aggressor normally wins when the battle of the sexes turns physical. The nature of the killing was consistent with the type of overkill and rage that often comes with Domestic Violence killings.
I wasn’t surprised when the case went to trial and Kapsik and his defense team tried to play the “not criminally responsible card.” It also came as no surprise that Kapsik declined to take the witness stand in his own defense. If he had, I have little doubt that any chance of securing an NCR finding would have vaporized.
On Tuesday, March 12, 2013, after a day of deliberations the jury rejected the mental illness defense. The news came to me via Twitter courtesy of CJOB crime reporter Keith McCullough and spread quickly through my iPhone to my former colleagues who worked the case. Kapsik apparently showed no emotion when the verdict was read. He now stands convicted of Second Degree murder and will be required to serve a mandatory minimum sentence of ten (10) years in prison prior to being eligible for parole.
Of interest, the jurors were polled and provided the following sentencing recommendations;
- Seven (7) jurors declined to provide a recommendation
- Four (4) jurors recommended a sentence of ten (10) years
- One (1) juror recommended a sentence of fifteen (15) years
Justice Karen Simonsen recently adjourned sentencing until April 4, 2013 after learning of a last minute request to provide victim impact statements from the victims family members in the Czech Republic.
Voices or no voices, the jury got this one right.