Peter Small, Toronto Star, December 3, 2005
A murder trial has seen a video of a man laughing as he told police how he beat and strangled an older woman who let him stay in her Etobicoke apartment as a favour to his mother.
“This is all like a bad movie,” Arthur Balla-Mekongo chuckled near the end of a two-hour video interview with homicide detectives.
“Like it wasn’t quick,” he said. “She wouldn’t die. That’s when I realized I had to cut her circulation.”
The tape was played for jurors yesterday and Thursday.
Balla-Mekongo, 30, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder but guilty to manslaughter in the Halloween 2003 killing of Theresa Efimba in her apartment near Martin Grove Rd. and Eglinton Ave. W.
After he killed her, he covered her body, watched TV and stayed in the apartment for almost two days before calling 911 because, he told police, he had no money and no place to stay.
“I can’t say I felt guilty,” he said.
“I feel like that was mission accomplished,” he laughed.
Balla-Mekongo told Det-Sgt. Ken Taylor and Det. Mark Saunders that Efimba, known to friends as Mother Theresa, put him up because she knew his mother.
But after a while the 57-year-old woman “looked like an enemy,” he told police, and he got such bad vibes from her that he felt he had to sleep with one eye open. “I’m probably a bit mentally unstable.”
Frequently laughing but sometimes grave, the 6-foot-6 man detailed how he entered the 4-foot-11 woman’s bedroom around midnight and attacked her as she lay in bed.
“I told her you will not understand why I am doing this right now,” Balla-Mekongo said.
He punched her, strangled her with one hand, but she scratched and bit, he said. “At one point it was almost as if she was going to overpower me.”
She landed on the floor and he hit her with a lamp then held her nose and mouth, he said. “It’s not that easy,” he said. “She’s a tough old cookie. That’s what surprised me.”
He told police that he feared she might be a computer, a cyber virus or a witch. “Back home that’s how we deal with witches,” said the Canadian citizen originally from Cameroon. She didn’t seem real, he said.
“So you think she’s a computer and you just sort of shut the computer off?” asked Taylor. “In my mind, yes,” he replied.
Dr. Michael Pollanen, a forensic pathologist, testified that Efimba died of “mechanical asphyxia.” She had multiple injuries on the head, face, neck and upper back, he said.
Her nightdress was pulled tight and wedged in a fold of her neck, consistent with it being used in neck compression, Pollanen told Crown prosecutor Tom Schneider.
Yesterday the Crown finished calling evidence. The trial continues Monday.