It was an “aberration” fuelled by alcohol and an abusive boyfriend when an Inuk woman stabbed her mother to death in a “monstrous act” in 2019, an Ottawa judge ruled Monday.
Now, Lennese Kublu needs a path to recovery.
The teen killer, now 21, has been sentenced to house arrest and 12 months probation for killing her mother. Lennese will serve two years less one day in the community beginning at a halfway house for Indigenous youth for one year, then eventually living on her own with a 10:30 p.m. curfew.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger said imposing a conditional sentence in a case of manslaughter is a rarity and should be an exception.
“I find that the matter of Lennesse Kublu is such a case,” he said.
Family experienced intergenerational trauma
Lennese Kublu was 18 when she stabbed her mother Susan Kuplu repeatedly inside their Penny Drive home.
Lennese was born in Iqaluit and raised in Igloolik where she spent the first 16 years of her life.
Her grandfather, a residential school survivor, came to Ottawa for medical treatment. Lennese and her mother followed him.
At 18, and addicted to alcohol, Lennese met Dwight Brown, her co-accused in the case.
“The evidence is intergenerational trauma and an intergenerational link to alcohol addiction,” Maranger said.
“Lennese Kublu’s transition from the far North to Ottawa at a young age and becoming involved with a much older abusive man, together with extreme substance and alcohol abuse, are undeniably linked to the tragic events of Jan. 10, 2019.”
Living with mother at time of homicide
At the time of the homicide, Kublu lived in Ottawa with her mother. Her younger siblings had been taken into foster care.
Kublu met Dwight Brown when she was a teen and he was 10 years her senior. Sometimes, they stayed with Susan.
“The three would habitually consume substances together including cannabis and alcohol,” Maranger said.
Brown was “abusive and controlling of Lennese,” Maranger said. Criminal charges were ultimately laid against Brown and, at the time of the homicide, he was under conditions to stay away from Lennese.
On the night of the fatal stabbing, all three were at Susan’s home on Penny Drive drinking.
Surveillance video from a nearby convenience store shows Lennese and Susan inside the store. Lennese can be seen as “highly intoxicated.”
Once they were back home, an argument ensued and Brown gave Lennese a knife. She stabbed her mother repeatedly. Brown then wrapped the body in a blanket and carried it to a dumpster nearby, Maranger said.
Ottawa police would spend weeks sifting through the rubble and refuse at the Trail Road landfill to find her body.
Teen felt threatened, judge says
Lennese didn’t want to do it, Maranger said, but felt threatened by Brown who said he would kill her if she didn’t help.
After Susan’s death, Ottawa police began a missing persons investigation into her disappearance.
Lennese ultimately confessed to police — detailed in a four-page letter — saying she stabbed her mother and disposed the body with Brown.
Brown pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Accused has shown remorse
Lennese Kublu pleaded guilty to manslaughter in January. Her guilt and remorse — from the time she confessed to police to every court hearing afterwards — has been “palpable,” Maranger said.
“This young woman has wept a river of tears since confessing to police on that fateful day. The sincerity and depth of her guilt, of her sense of the wrong that she has done has been … unequivocal.
“She will shoulder the burden of what she did all of the rest of the days of her life.”
He also said the level of support from social workers to support workers to her family members “is a testament to the fact that the monstrous act committed … in a state of extreme intoxication was an aberration and it can not, and I think, should not define this young lady.”
Last week, Lennese participated in a healing circle with her family — sisters, uncles, aunts and maternal grandmother and grandfather.
The “overwhelming” recommendation from those who loved Susan and Lennese was time for Lennese to heal and better herself, Maranger said.
“Justice for Susan Kuplu can come in many forms,” he said, adding that jail time would not be what her mother wanted.
Lennese was also ordered to continue counselling and treatment, abstain from drinking alcohol, submit DNA samples, and not to possess any weapons as defined by the Criminal Code.