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Graphic warning: Chatham man sentenced to life in prison for 'horrific' murder

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A Chatham man has been sentenced to life in prison for the “horrific” murder of his girlfriend.

Stephen Thompson previously pleaded guilty to second degree murder for stabbing Cynthia Sitzes to death in July 2022.

Warning: contains graphic content.

Thompson, 43, was sentenced Tuesday morning by Justice Brian Dube in Chatham’s Superior court to life in prison with a period of 14 years parole ineligibility.

The assistant Crown attorney had requested 16 years while the defence asked for 13 years.

“In an apparent fit of jealous rage, Mr. Thompson butchered an unarmed and defenceless person in a brutal and senseless act of intimate partner violence,” Dube said Tuesday.

According to Dube, Sitzes was stabbed 21 times in her face, neck, head and upper back. Court also heard she suffered 16 “incise” or defensive wounds.

“She suffered for an unknown period before she died at the hands of a man who was supposed to love and protect her, not kill her,” Dube said.

In an agreed statement of facts, not only did Thompson admit his actions, court also learned he left Sitzes body in his Chatham apartment for three days before he confessed to police.

Further, his crime was only uncovered because Chatham-Kent police were investigating a report of a suspicious person near a vehicle they now know belonged to Sitzes.

“He has been emotional and remorseful throughout the proceedings every time I've spoken with Mr. Thompson,” defence lawyer Ken Marley said Tuesday outside of court. “Today I think was the worst.”

Thompson, the court heard, has a history of illegal drug abuse and a criminal record with 26 convictions, including two for assault.

At the time of her death, Sitzes had only been in a relationship with Thompson for four months.

However, he had physically assaulted her a few weeks before her death.

“Within a few minutes he went from loving her, to killing her,” Dube said.

Dube however expressed faith Thompson can be rehabilitated in his time incarcerated because of his guilty plea, ongoing remorse, and continuing to be on methadone to fight his drug addictions.

The judge also believes Thompson is capable of having a “healthy and positive long-term intimate partner relationship” based on a relationship the accused had for more than 10 years which only ended when she died of COVID-19 in February 2022.

“Despite the horrific nature of this offence I find that Mr. Thompson is deserving of at least some credit due to the choices he made after he turned himself into the police,” Dube said, noting not only did Thompson confess he also conducted a videotaped statement with police.

“Mr. Thompson could have easily attempted to resile from his confession and whether successful or not, have a trial and advance any number of defences including provocation, self-defence, intoxication or all of them rolled up into one but he chose not to,” Dube said.

Thompson will be in prison and cannot apply for parole until 2036.

According to his lawyer, Thompson’s sentence begins on the date of his arrest on July 4, 2022. 

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