After Dad Murders Mom in Front of Son, Daughter Confronts Him in Court: 'You Are Not My Father'
A Washington man who pleaded guilty to the premeditated stabbing murder of his wife as their son watched was confronted last week in court by the couple’s daughter, who told him, “You knew that it would break our hearts. … You are not my father.”
The daughter, Selam, who asked that her last name not be used, spoke Friday in King County Superior Court at the sentencing for her father, Aregay Tesfamariam, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Tesfamariam, 55, pleaded guilty earlier this month to killing his wife of more than two decades, 51-year-old Tringo Ferede-Tesema, in the attack at their home in Kent on Aug. 23, 2017, according to the outlet.
Shortly after his arrest at gunpoint near the residence — by police who found Tesfamariam covered in blood and carrying a knife — prosecutors in charging documents described his attack on his wife as “shockingly brazen,” the Seattle Times reported.
The couple’s unnamed adult son lived in the home with his parents and later told authorities he raced from upstairs into the kitchen after hearing Ferede-Tesema’s screams, the charging documents state, as described by the Kent Reporter.
The son saw Tesfamariam with a kitchen knife in hand standing over Ferede-Tesema and he watched Tesfamariam stab her before he could intervene, striking his dad with a glass vase, according to the Kent Reporter.
Ferede-Tesema then fled through the front door but her husband chased her, stabbing her further in the driveway in front of their son and a passing mail carrier, the charging documents show.
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Tesfamariam later told police he intentionally pocketed two steak knives and then lured his wife into the kitchen with the request that she read some documents. He then reportedly said he stabbed her “too many (times) to count,” Kent police said, and reached for the second knife after he reportedly broke the first one in the violent attack, according to the Post-Intelligencer.
“The defendant has been planning the murder of his wife for some time,” stated the documents charging Tesfamariam with first-degree murder. “On this day, without provocation, he armed himself with two knives and laid in wait for her, even devising a plan to get her closer to him when the time came.”
“His vicious attack on her was both brutal and prolonged – stabbing her repeatedly, even as she tried to get away. Additionally, the defendant was shockingly brazen, repeatedly stabbing his wife in front of their [adult] son and out in the driveway for all to see, including the passing mailman.”
In a statement to PEOPLE, King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Wyman Yip said: “This was a horrible, violent, tragic, and senseless case. Thanks to the selfless bravery of the victim’s son and the unwavering dedication of the Kent Police Department, the defendant had no choice but to plead guilty as charged to murder in the first degree.”
At Tesfamariam’s’ sentencing on Friday, his daughter, Selam, testified that his violence toward her mother had been building for years — to the extent that she and her brother feared leaving her alone while they went to school and sometimes slept with their mom to guard her.
“I remember how helpless and small I felt, afraid he was going to kill her,” Selam said, according to Post-Intelligencer. “We thought we could protect her from him.”
Tesfamariam’s defense attorneys backed his claim that he’d slipped into depression after falling ill with kidney failure, diabetes and vision loss — giving rise to delusions that his wife was out to “get” him, the outlet reports.
In 2004 Ferede-Tesema sought and received a domestic-violence protection order against her husband, according to the Times. In her application she wrote: “Sometimes he grabs my hair and hits my face. He kicks me. He has thrown coffee on me in the past. He threatens to kill me, our children and himself and I believe he is serious. I am very afraid he will kill me.”
The order expired later that same year.
Under a plea agreement reached by prosecutors and Tesfamariam’s defense, Judge John McHale sentenced him to 304 months in prison, or more than 25 years.
Tesfamariam’s attorney could not be reached.