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2 life sentences for man who killed roommate, boyfriend in 2022 stabbing attack in Saskatoon

Phoenix Checkosis, left, and Kira Opoonechaw were both stabbed and killed on Jan. 19, 2022. Sebastian Sanderson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and will serve two life sentences, with no chance of parole for 10 years, for their deaths. (Submitted by the Opoonechaw family - image credit)
Phoenix Checkosis, left, and Kira Opoonechaw were both stabbed and killed on Jan. 19, 2022. Sebastian Sanderson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and will serve two life sentences, with no chance of parole for 10 years, for their deaths. (Submitted by the Opoonechaw family - image credit)

A fatally wounded pregnant woman managed to text her aunt moments after she'd been stabbed by her roommate, a judge heard at Saskatoon Court of King's Bench.

Sebastian Sanderson, 22, was in court Monday to be sentenced for killing his roommate Kira Opoonechaw and Opoonechaw's boyfriend, Phoenix Checkosis, on Jan. 19, 2022.

"While exchanging messages, at 1:27 p.m. Ms. Opoonechaw texted, 'Sebastian just attacked me.' At 1:28 p.m., she confirmed he 'pulled a knife on me' and at 1:40 p.m. she texted 'stabbed,' " said prosecutor Elizabeth Addabor in court, reading from the seven-page agreed statement of facts.

Opoonechaw was stabbed three times, including in the upper back and abdomen. Checkosis was stabbed 10 times when he came to her aid.

Both died at Royal University Hospital.

"You are a monster. You took three lives. I have so much anger," said Checkosis's mother, who gave a victim impact statement. She did not have a prepared text.

"I will never forgive you. I hope you burn in hell."

Justice Brian Scherman accepted a joint submission and sentenced Sanderson to two life sentences for stabbing to death Opoonechaw and Checkosis.

Sanderson pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter for the attack. Scherman accepted the recommendation from Addabor and defence lawyer Megan Ward that Sanderson not be eligible to apply for parole for at least 10 years.

Earlier altercation

Court heard that Opoonechaw and Sanderson were close friends and that she had invited him to live with her and Checkosis. According to the statement of facts, Sanderson had been diagnosed with "borderline personality disorder" and had been prescribed medication.

He was not taking the medication on the day of the killings.

"A cousin of Sebastian Sanderson was on the phone with him. Sebastian was complaining about his relationship with his roommates. There had been an earlier altercation between the roommates with Mr. Sanderson complaining about doing all the chores and Ms. Opoonechaw complaining about Mr. Sanderson communicating about her personal life to her relatives. [Sebastian's cousin] then heard a scream on the call and the call ended," according to the statement of facts.

"While Mr. Sanderson was on the phone with [his cousin], Mr. Sanderson had proceeded to grab a knife from beside the computer inside his room. He then opened his bedroom door and stabbed Ms. Opoonechaw. When Mr. Checkosis heard Ms. Opoonechaw screaming and came to her aid, Sebastian slashed at Mr. Checkosis' neck and proceeded to stab him further."

Checkosis, covered in blood, took off on foot and was arrested a few blocks away.

Tamara Opoonechaw was working in a restaurant in Melfort, Sask., when she learned her daughter had been stabbed. She raced to arrange a ride to the hospital in Saskatoon, about 180 kilometres away.

"Our girl didn't make it. She left a half hour before I arrived," she said. "My world crumbled."

Opoonechaw's grandmother, Nancy Stonestand, said, "I will never see her again as I take my last steps on earth."

Sanderson declined to speak when given the opportunity.