Forty-seven year old Patrick Chareka made his first court appearance Thursday morning in Antigonish Provincial Court to face first degree murder charges in the death of 42-year-old Ottilia Chareka.
Surrounded by three court sheriffs and two RCMP members, Patrick Chareka stood motionless during his brief court appearance.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, members of the Antigonish RCMP responded to a 911 call from a residence on Centennial Drive in Antigonish.
When they arrived, they found Ottilia Chareka suffering from life threatening injures. She was transported St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish where she succumbed to her injuries.
An autopsy is being performed today in Halifax.
Ottilia Chareka worked as an associate professor at St. F.X. in the faculty of education.
“Any case where there is a loss of life is a tragedy, this one is no exception,” crown attorney Darlene Oko said, adding that the fact a young family is involved adds to the tragic circumstances.
There are five children left behind with the death of Ottilia starting at age three, 12, 16, 18 and an oldest daughter whose exact age wasn’t noted but who has made her way back from Alberta to help care for her younger siblings.
“My understanding is the children are being well cared for by friends, family… one of the older sisters has arrived here from Alberta and she’s caring for the children as well,” Oko said.
As for the first degree murder charged, Oko explained what constitutes first degree.
“First degree murder is a planned and deliberate killing which is what is being alleged here with the charge against Mr. Chareka,” she said, adding that her understanding is it did occur in the “matrimonial home.”
In regards to the difficultly of the case, Oko said it’s much too early to comment.
“This offence is only alleged to have occurred the day before yesterday or yesterday in the early morning hours, so that’s not something I can answer,” she said adding that it’s a possibility family members will be called on to testify.
Defence attorney Gerald MacDonald said this is “as bad as it gets,’ when asked about tragic domestic disputes.
“There was a death… children have lost essentially both parents. It doesn’t get any worse,” he said.
The defence has elected a trial by Supreme Court Judge and jury.
Jennifer Desmond, a friend of Ottilia’s and fellow educator, was in the courtroom for the proceedings and following Patrick Chareka’s appearance, spoke of the loss.
“For the Antigonish community and for the world… she was an educator who believed in justice,” Desmond said. “She practiced it in her teaching and her every day life. She was definitely a role model and mentor to African Nova Scotian women and women in general. It’s an indeed a lost to the community, such a tragedy.”
Desmond also talked about the loss for the children.
“As a mother myself I can’t imagine how her children are feeling right now, basically losing both their family members, parents,” she said. “Indeed a loss for her children, my heart goes out to them.”
Patrick Chareka has been remanded in custody and his next court appearance, to set a date for a preliminary inquiry, has been scheduled for March 30 at 2 p.m.