News

Man gets 5 years for vicious knife attack on surprised woman

A man who "brutally and viciously" stabbed a woman inside her own home was sentenced to five years in prison today (Friday).

Alexander Vince Escobar, now 20, was 18 when he drunkenly entered the house at 807 Anderson Rd., intending to rob the residence, but stabbed the woman multiple times, resulting in seriously life-altering injuries.

Actions like Escobar's "undermine our collective society," Judge Robert Higinbotham said in his judgment.

Reading from an agreed statement of facts, Crown counsellor Kimberly Henders-Miller said Escobar had been drinking with his friends at Anderson Park after a concert. After a fight with one friend, Escobar left the group.

Newlyweds Jessica Ziakin-Cook and her husband Matt Cook had moved in to their Esquimalt house a week before the attack. At 4 a.m. Sept. 9, Ziakin-Cook heard noises in the house. Thinking it was the cat, she went downstairs to investigate, then used the bathroom.

Escobar was standing inside the bathroom and lunged at her, armed with two knives from the Ziakin-Cooks' kitchen. He first slashed her shoulder and hands, then cut her left leg behind the knee, severing her femoral artery.

Cook heard the screams and fought with Escobar, who was running around confused. When Cook tended to his wife, Escobar escaped the house.

The court heard Ziakin-Cook nearly died in transit to Victoria General Hospital. She had lost half her blood. Meanwhile, in the confusion, Cook was arrested by Victoria police and handcuffed naked on the front porch.

Three days later, Escobar turned himself in at Victoria Police Department. He was charged with aggravated assault, robbery, breaking and entering, and assault with a weapon. On March 28, 2011, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. Crown stayed the other charges.

In court Friday, Ziakin-Cook walked around using crutches because of a recent injury, sustained as a result of her weakness since the attack, she said. A long scar was visible running down to her ankle on her left leg. Addressing the court she told Ecobar, "It's this new vulnerability that sakes my confidence. I still don't understand why there's no attempted murder charge. … I want you to know that I forgive you and feel for you."

Cook also addressed the court, saying "It took months for me to digest and finally come to terms with this. We struggle to feel comfortable in our own home."

During both statements, Escobar cried openly.

He later addressed the couple, pausing often as he cried. "I'm really sorry, Ms. Ziakin and Mr. Cook, for what I put you through and your families."

After the hearing, Ziakin-Cook's father Paul Ziakin cried as he hugged his daughter.

Henders-Buller said mitigating factors in the case were Escobar turning himself in, his guilty plea, young age and lack of previous criminal history. But aggravating factors were that the attack happened in the couple's home, was unprovoked and unexpected, caused lasting, life-changing injuries and that he had armed himself with two knives from the kitchen.

"It's difficult to imagine anything more troubling than to live with the emotional damage" caused by the attack, Higinbotham told the court.

Escobar will receive two-for-one credit for four months already served, meaning he will serve another four years, four months. He must also submit his DNA to a database and cannot possess a firearm for 10 years.

ecardone@vicnews.com

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