Karl McKay is speaking out from his Winnipeg jail cell, just days after he was convicted of first-degree murder for his role in the death of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair.
"I know I’m the most hated person in this province and probably the whole country," McKay said in an exclusive print interview with the Free Press earlier today at the downtown Remand Centre.
The wide-ranging, hour-long chat was conducted with McKay’s lawyer, Mike Cook, at his side. McKay said he wanted to set the record straight about his role in Phoenix’s death and allegations made against him by his former lover and co-accused, Samantha Kematch.
Jurors found McKay and Kematch guilty as charged last week, earning them automatic life sentences with no chance of parole for at least 25 years. The pair had been seeking convictions on the reduced charge of manslaughter. They are both expected to file appeals.
Jurors heard during the month-long trial that Phoenix was repeatedly abused and neglected for several months, ending with her death in June 2005 inside a home on the Fisher River First Nation. McKay and Kematch then buried her body near the local garbage dump and hid the death months before McKay’s two teenage sons went to police in March 2006.
Police were eventually led by McKay to the burial site, where Phoenix’s remains were found once the ground thawed. An examination by forensic experts revealed numerous new and old fractures, indicating a pattern of violence against her.
Kematch spoke out first earlier this week, telling the Free Press she loved Phoenix but was powerless to save her from the controlling, abusive McKay. She denied abusing Phoenix and claimed McKay was the real culprit.
"That’s BS," McKay said today.
"Samantha hated Phoenix. I know this because I was around. She’s just trying to clear her name."
McKay, a long-distance trucker by trade, claims Phoenix was always terrified when he’d hit the road and leave her alone with Kematch. McKay said she was addicted to crack cocaine and would spend most of her money on drugs.
"I’d come home from a trip and Phoenix would come hug me, not wanting to let go," said McKay. He relayed incidents of Kematch throwing out Phoenix’s Christmas presents, scolding her for eating several pieces of bread at a time and watching as her own alcoholic mother gave the little girl a beer and a cigarette.
McKay said his biggest mistake was staying in a relationship with Kematch, who he claims was responsible for Phoenix’s death.
"I should have listened to my heart and not her," he said.
"I can’t imagine a mother would be that evil."
Read more on the interview with Karl McKay in Friday's Winnipeg Free Press.