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8.5-year prison sentence for man who killed aunt hours after being released from police custody

The lobby of B.C. Supreme Court in downtown Vancouver is seen in a CTV News file image. The lobby of B.C. Supreme Court in downtown Vancouver is seen in a CTV News file image.

Warning: This story contains disturbing details

A man has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison for the fatal stabbing of his aunt in North Vancouver, which happened just hours after he was released from police custody.

Anthony Del Rosario was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court last week in connection to the 2022 death of Dominga Santos. He entered a guilty plea for manslaughter in April.

Santos was found dead at her apartment on Dec. 13, 2022. Del Rosario was arrested at the scene and investigators said at the time he was known to police. 

In his decision, Justice Warren Milman explained Del Rosario came to Canada from the Philippines in 1997, with sponsorship from his aunt. Milman said Santos also sent money to Del Rosario's family to help support his education, and let him live in her home "for many years."

The court heard Del Rosario had a history of illicit drug use in the Philippines, which continued when he moved to Canada. Multiple relationships ended because of Del Rosario's drug use, Milman wrote, until he had a decade-long period of abstinence.

After spending several years living in Ottawa, Del Rosario moved back to Vancouver and eventually moved in again with his aunt. In 2022, he began reusing crystal meth, Milman said.

"As (a) result of his ongoing drug use and what appears to have been an unwelcome hug that made her uncomfortable, the deceased asked him to move out of her apartment, which he did," Milman's decision says. "His use of crystal methamphetamine escalated rapidly thereafter. His weekly expenditure on his habit more than doubled."

Release from custody

The day before Santos's death, the court heard, Del Rosario was asked to give another aunt a ride to Santos's home. Milman wrote Del Rosario's aunt was "alarmed by his driving," saying he appeared to be impaired.

"He drove in an erratic and dangerous manner. He weaved the vehicle in and out of traffic and into a lane on the wrong side of the road," the court heard. "He did not obey traffic signals. He appeared to be hallucinating at times. He was flailing his arms."

Del Rosario then drove to a McDonald's, where he smoked crystal meth in the parking lot, Milman wrote. He went into the restaurant where a staff member called police. The officer who attended the scene arrested Del Rosario and gave him the option to be dropped off at his aunt's house, if a responsible adult was present to supervise him. But after arriving at his aunt's apartment, Del Rosario attempted to flee, and the constable took him to the police station.

"He was kept in police custody for several hours. While in the holding cell, he was observed to be shadowboxing or swatting at the air. He said he was hearing voices," Milman's decision said. "He later told the psychiatrist that while he was in custody, he felt tapping at the back of his head and a tongue on his leg. He said he felt the sensation of tongues trying to penetrate his skin. He attempted to swat the imaginary attackers away."

Del Rosario was released at 1 a.m. on Dec. 13, the day Santos was killed. After being released, Santos allowed Del Rosario to stay at her apartment again.

"Mr. Del Rosario later told one of the psychiatrists that when he woke up the following morning, he saw the devil, a serpent or ghosts who, he thought, were trying to kill him or suck his blood," Milman wrote. "He was fighting with one of them, he said, and realized at some point that it was his aunt. He heard a voice telling him to kill the monster."

After hearing loud noises from Santos's apartment mid-morning, neighbours called police.

Milman explained Santos died of "multiple blunt and sharp injuries," and police found Del Rosario near her when they arrived at the scene. He was arrested and initially brought to a nearby hospital before being taken back to the police station.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C., which is tasked with looking into all police-related incidents that result in serious harm or death, whether or not there are allegations of wrongdoing, confirmed it investigated an incident in North Vancouver on that day. The agency does not confirm names of affected persons, but said the matter was "closed without public report," which indicates the chief civilian director "found there were no reasonable grounds to believe any officer committed an offence."

Del Rosario was initially charged with second-degree murder, which he pleaded not guilty to. He later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

While Crown sought a 10-year prison sentence for Del Rosario and his defence counsel sought five or six years, he received an eight-and-a-half-year sentence instead. Milman said Del Rosario didn't have a criminal record before his aunt's death, and said he hasn't taken drugs since the date of the offence. Milman also said Del Rosario "is genuinely remorseful."

With credit for time already served, Del Rosario was sentenced to six years and two months in prison. He was also handed a lifetime firearms ban. Top Stories

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