Two months before Tamrat Gebere killed the mother of his child, he cooked her a special Mother’s Day meal.
After making the meal of chicken stew he said “I want you to feel proud. You’re a mom. You can ask (for) anything,” Gebere testified Tuesday at his second-degree murder trial.
Aster Kassa, was stabbed 53 times in the face, neck, arms and chest on July 17, 2010, in her Riverside Dr. apartment.
Gebere has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not second-degree murder.
In July 2009, after Kassa fled for a shelter in Toronto, Gebere flew to Ethiopia, pleading with Kassa’s family to convince her to return to Ottawa so he could see his daughter.
“I would love to live with her,” Gebere said.
If she wanted to live separately, he said, he was OK with that as long as he had access to his child.
“She would come if I agreed to sleep with her but not living together,” Gebere said.
After declining her sexual advances on Mother’s Day, things started falling apart.
“After that, I couldn’t see my child,” he said.
Weekend visits halted. Gebere hired to lawyer, demanding access. She obliged.
Days before Kassa was killed, Gebere, tired of arguing over the baby, planned to take his own life, he said.
He bought a bus ticket to Montreal, he told the jury, but the bus was full.
He wound up in a Kingston hotel room, phoning escort services.
“I thought, it was my last day and I would spend it to the fullest,” Gebere said.
That didn’t work out but the next day he ended up having sex with a friend in town.
He returned to Ottawa.
The jury was shown dozens of photos of Gebere doting over his daughter, born on Valentine’s Day 2009.
On her first birthday he decorated his MacLaren St. apartment with streamers, showering the child with clothes, and a large cake.
Defence lawyer Stuart Konyer pored over dozens of receipts, detailing items Gebere purchased, including diapers, wipes, clothes, toys, a handbag for Kassa.
She moved into her Riverside Dr. apartment one day before she was killed.
Surveillance footage of Kassa entering the lobby the next day was shown, carrying diapers, food, and a laptop.
Gebere had stopped at a restaurant to pick up lunch.
He planned on assembling the baby’s crib but when he arrived she was asleep.
The trial continues Wednesday.