Neil Naslund vividly remembers the last night of his father’s life on Labour Day weekend in 2011.
Miles Naslund was drunk and angry. He’d already thrown wrenches at his wife Helen because the tractor broke down while she was using it on their Holden Alta., farm. His fury erupted again when he sat down at the dinner table.
According to a court document, Miles, 49, “violently cleared the fully set dinner table onto the floor, indicating the meal was not fit for a dog.”
Neil Naslund saw the hot food land in his mother’s lap.
“I saw the tears rolling down her face,” Neil told CBC News. “Her crying, all the broken glass and the food and the mess to clean up. He’s yelling and screaming and saying he should kill all of us, we’re all useless. We don’t deserve to eat.”
Hours later, Helen shot her husband in the back of the head while he was passed out drunk in their bed.
“I think that she did the only thing that she could do in the situation,” Neil said.
Neil helped his mother hide the body.
The killing stayed secret for six years, until one of Neil’s brothers began to talk.
Neil and his mother were both charged with first-degree murder, but last year Neil pleaded guilty to offering an indignity to a dead body and his mother admitted she was guilty of manslaughter.
Neil was sentenced to three years in prison. He was paroled last month.
Helen was given an 18-year sentence. This week her sentence was appealed in Alberta Court of Appeal and the decision is reserved.
The appeal hearing prompted Neil Naslund, 29, to speak out. He’s said he’s afraid the three judges still don’t have the full picture.
“I wish they knew how dangerous and how bad of a person my father really was,” Neil said. “It was a hell that you can’t possibly imagine … It was like living in a war zone.”
Neil said his father broke his nose for the first time when he was five years old. The violence and drinking steadily increased.
“He would go to the bar on a daily basis and drink and spend all kinds of money,” Neil said. “It was up to her to figure out how to make ends meet.
“It was up to us to do the farm work and make sure things kept going while he was in bed sleeping.”
Neil said his mother tried to leave the marriage many times, but it always ended with a severe beating.
“Her eyes were black. Her ribs were broken. Her throat had bruises around it,” he said. “She was told that if she ever tried to do anything like that again she would be killed. If she ever told anybody about it, she would be killed.”
Neil said he and his brothers were also threatened. None of them believed going to the police was a solution.
“If we called the cops, they would have taken him away for six months, maybe a year,” Neil said. “But when he got out he would have come and killed us all. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Neil said his life improved dramatically once his father was dead. He got married and had children. He watched his mother slowly embrace life again. She started barrel racing and riding horses. She was able to sleep through the night.
That ended when Helen began serving her 18-year sentence.
“In my mind, she spent just about 30 years in prison,” Neil said. “I think all she deserves is a chance to have a life.”
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