A Morinville man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to the second-degree murder of his common-law wife has received a mandatory life sentence. 

The second-degree murder guilty plea carries an automatic life sentence. The judge agreed to a joint submission for a minimum parole eligibility of 10 years.

James Gary Urbaniak was charged with murder after his common-law wife Jessica Martel was found dead in their home in Morinville in April of 2009.

In his sentencing decision the judge told the court:

"It conjures up an image of a caveman attacking some helpless quarry in a frenzy," said Justice Sterling Sanderman.

Officers were called out to the couple's west-side home in Morinville on April 29th, and upon arrival, discovered the 26-year-old woman's body inside the home, along with an injured Urbaniak.

The agreed statement of facts states Martel was planning on leaving Urbaniak in late April. In response, he beat her, stabbed her and strangled her. Urbaniak was found in the home's bathroom with self-inflicted stab wounds.

Martel's three children, all under the age of seven, were home at the time of incident.

Martel's mother who is now raising the children read her victim impact statement in court.

"They often ask us, 'how come we did not come and save their mom,'" said Lynne Rosychuk.

Martel's father cried while reading his victim impact statement to the court.

"I miss her so much. Every day it is so hard to live with," said Luke Martel.

Family members say they are now trying to focus on the future and are working to create the Jessica Martel Foundation, a fund to help female victims of abuse.

"I guess we would like to eventually raise enough money for a women's shelter in the area," said Martel's aunt, Diane Cantrell.

Urbaniak has been in police custody since May 5, 2009. The court heard that Urbaniak was the one who actually called 911.

With files from Bill Fortier