An Abbotsford man suffocated his teenage half-sister because he was angry about how she was acting over his sexual abuse of her as a child, a Crown lawyer said today (Thursday) in court.
Wendy Stephen was speaking in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster at the sentencing hearing for Mathew Pernosky, 33.
Pernosky pleaded guilty May 28 to the second-degree murder of Rachel Pernosky, 18, of Mission.
Rachel, the mother of a now six-year-old boy, was reported missing on March 16, 2013 from her home on Kite Street in Mission.
Her body was located three days later in steep terrain in Chilliwack, near Old Orchard Road.
Pernosky’s guilty plea comes with an automatic life sentence, but the sentencing hearing will determine how long he must wait before he is eligible for parole.
In second-degree murder, that term can be anywhere from 10 to 25 years.
Crown and defence lawyers made a joint submission today in court, recommending that Pernosky’s parole eligibility be 13 years.
The judge is scheduled to render his decision on July 4.
Stephen said Pernosky was arrested and charged following a “Mr. Big” operation in which an undercover officer posed as the head of a criminal organization.
She said Pernosky confessed to “Mr. Big” that he had killed Rachel – with whom he shared the same dad – and all the information he provided was backed up by the evidence obtained by investigators. The confession was taped on hidden cameras.
Stephen said, on the night of the killing, Pernosky had gone to Rachel’s residence – her son was not there at the time – and he apologized for molesting her when she was a young child. (He was 14 or 15 at the time of the assault, and he was convicted at the age of 19 and sentenced to probation, the court heard.)
Stephen said Rachel then had a text exchange with a friend who asked her how the conversation with Pernosky was going.
“She said it was a good conversation, an emotional conversation, but she was very tired and hoped he would go home. That angered him,” Stephen said.
She said Pernosky described in his 2016 confession to the undercover officer that Rachel’s text made it seem as if she was the victim, when he was the one who had suffered by being charged and going through the court process.
Stephen said Pernosky then hit Rachel in the head, pinned her down and suffocated her by holding his hand over her mouth and nose. He then took her body to his Abbotsford residence, sexually assaulted her and dumped her body in Chilliwack.
Stephen said Pernosky “covered his tracks” by sending texts to and from Rachel’s phone after the killing and disposing of her keys and some other personal items.
Defence lawyer Ondine Snowdon said the murder has been a “traumatic incident” in Pernosky’s life, leading him to have panic attacks, sleepless nights, flashbacks and nightmares.
He has now being treated for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Snowdon said Pernosky had an unstable childhood, bouncing around between his parents and grandparents, and was sexually molested at the age of eight by a female neighbour.
She said he has had a “great deal” of anger and frustration that he has never dealt with, but he is now taking programs in prison to help him understand his issues.
“He continues to be deeply affected by these events,” Snowdon said in reference to the murder.
The courtroom was packed with Rachel’s family and friends. Stephen read aloud victim impact statements from Rachel’s sister, mother, and father of her son, detailing the devastating emotional impacts that her death has had on the family.
“Words cannot express the pain and anguish our family and friends have endured since Rachel’s murder. Our lives have been forever changed … We are forever broken and scarred,” her sister wrote.
Her mother wrote that she rarely goes out anymore, and is “overwhelmed with emotion” on a daily basis.
“Rachel’s murder has broken my heart,” she said.
Two charges of indignity to a body for having sexual contact with and disposing of the body have been stayed against Pernosky.