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Family and friends of Naomi Onotera face man who killed her as sentencing hearing begins

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Warning: This story contains details that readers may find distrubing. 

People in the gallery openly wept Monday as friends and family of Naomi Onotera took the stand at a sentencing hearing to share stories about positive ways she touched their lives — and the devastating impact her death at the hands of her husband has had on them.

Family reported 40-year-old Onotera missing in late August of 2021.

For months, RCMP and the community rallied to search for the popular Langley elementary school teacher-librarian.

In December, Obnes Regis admitted to undercover police that he killed his wife with a single punch during an argument in a bathroom in the couple’s home.

He also told the officers that he dismembered Onotera’s body and disposed of her remains.

Despite that confession, he initially pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and committing indignity to human remains, before abruptly changing his plea a few days into his trial at New Westminster Supreme Court.

Court heard Regis left the couple’s 18-month-old daughter in a playpen next to her mother as Onotera lay injured and unconscious on the floor gasping for breath — before eventually putting the child to bed and returning to watch Onotera die.

He told police she died approximately one hour after he punched her and during that time made no attempt to help her or call 911.

Regis also took his daughter with him to dispose of Onotera’s remains the day after he killed her.

They took public transit and a taxi from Surrey to Maple Ridge and eventually to Fort Langley where Regis told police he had discarded the remains along the bank of the Fraser River.

“My sister’s murder is something I will never heal from. It will be etched in my heart and mind, and the pain and sorrow will never go away,” Kirsten Kerr, Onotera's sister said as she read out her victim impact statement.

In all, nine family members and one close friend shared victim impact statements with the court.

“When we found out about Naomi’s death, her father and I were devastated,” said Maureen Onotera said about her daughter. “We never thought we would be living our final years without her.”

Regis stared ahead and showed no emotion as his former in-laws laid bare the trauma, grief and anger they have experienced as a result of what he did to Onotera.

The Crown is seeking a sentence of 14 years on the manslaughter charge and an additional five years for the indignity to Onotera’s remains — with the sentences to be served consecutively.

“What Mr. Regis did was horrific, inhuman, monstrous and almost unimaginable,” Crown Counsel Crichton Pile told the court.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for four days.

The defence has not yet begun submissions.

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