Sister of Adam Cormack, Cat, left, along with his mom Theresa and his dog Nukka pose for a photo just outside Whitehorse on Sept. 24. Adam Cormack was killed in 2017 and on Sept. 19 his killer was found guilty of first-degree murder. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Adam Cormack’s mother ‘glad that justice was served’

Theresa Cormack says she’s relieved a jury found Edward James Penner guilty of first-degree murder

The mother of Ibex Valley murder victim Adam Cormack says she can finally begin healing now that her son’s killer has been sentenced to life in prison.

In an interview Sept. 23, Theresa Cormack said that even though it was a long, painful process, she felt justice has been served.

Adam, 25, was murdered on a dirt trail in Ibex Valley in 2017. A Whitehorse jury found Edward James Penner, 22, guilty of first-degree murder on Sept. 19 following about a day and a half of deliberations.

First-degree murder comes with an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for the first 25 years.

“I’m glad that justice was served, absolutely,” Theresa said. “I’m glad he got 25 and that’s not long enough, honestly. It should be an eye for an eye. But I’m grateful, I’m so grateful … I’ve never been so grateful for the justice system.”

Adam was born and raised in Prince George, B.C., where he began dealing drugs when he was 10 years old, Theresa said. He “paid his due, paid his price” though, she said, and when he was 14, moved north to the Yukon to live with her and his older sister, Catherine.

The three eventually bought a house together in Whitehorse, with Adam working in construction for many years.

However, he was in a “really bad car accident” in 2015 that caused brain trauma, Theresa said, which “took him back to when he was growing up” and selling drugs.

Adam Cormack, right, does Christmas baking with his sister Cat. Adam Cormack was killed in 2017 and on Sept. 19 his killer was found guilty of first-degree murder. (Submitted)

“That really killed me inside,” she said.

Still, Theresa said, Adam was “a good son” and “kind soul,” a fun-loving family man, one who “just wanted to be happy with a girl and have babies.”

“He loved everybody and loved everything,” she said. “He loved being outdoors, he loved fishing and camping and hunting, loved to work … My boy was good. I’d definitely vouch for that.”

Although it was difficult, Theresa said it was important for her to be at Penner’s trial because she wanted answers.

“I had to be there for my son because if this was me or my daughter, my son would be there every day to make sure,” she said.

“It was tough but I had to be there, I had to know. I had to know everything that I needed to know for my own peace of mind … And not that it’s going to bring my boy back, but I need to know. I needed to know.”

One small comfort, she said, was learning that the rumour about Adam having been left naked on the road and that his throat had been slit wasn’t true. She and Catherine also took a day off from the trial on Sept. 11, Adam’s birthday, to visit the site where he was killed (a cross has been erected there in his memory).

Despite hearing more than two weeks’ worth of evidence, Theresa said she still has questions, like how and why Adam allegedly stealing a gun escalated to Penner murdering him.

“Who cares? Go get another gun,” she said. “… I’ll always have unanswered questions. Nobody’s going to tell me the truth. Only Penner knows the truth.”

Sister of Adam Cormack, Cat, shows off the tattoo she received in Whitehorse on Sept. 24. Adam Cormack was killed in 2017 and on Sept. 19 his killer was found guilty of first-degree murder. Her brother had the same tattoo. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

But with the trial now over and a calendar that’s no longer littered with upcoming court dates, Theresa said she feels she can finally begin the next chapter in her life.

“I never let myself heal through that two years (since Adam’s death), because why?” she said. “Just to get wrung through the wringer again? And hear it all over again, and just worse and more? So I didn’t really heal that two years because I just, I couldn’t, because I knew what was coming up was going to drag me through that again and just open up all those wounds again. So now I’m hoping that I can heal.”

She said she plans on going back to school to take home care and starting work again.

She also plans on ensuring Penner is never free again.

“He got 25 years to think about what he did, and when the 25 years is up … when parole comes up, I will be there and I know some of our witnesses said they would be there, and all my friends and family,” she said. “We’ll make sure that he doesn’t get out. He will be no good to society.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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