CHIANG MAI – Ernie Del Pinto is ready to look into the eyes of his son’s killer to tell him how much anguish he has caused.
The Canadian man and his wife arrived Chiang Mai, Thailand to attend the sentencing of Sgt. Uthai Dechawiwat, who pleaded guilty to killing Leo Del Pinto more than five years after the slaying.
The 25-year-old died after being shot in the face and stomach on Jan. 6, 2008, while backpacking in Thailand.
Ernie has prepared a letter, which he wants read into record inside the courtroom during the sentencing.
“Every single day we wake knowing that our son is not here today because of you and your evil act,” reads a copy of the letter provided to the Herald.
It goes on to say the family’s peace of mind, happiness and trust was taken when Leo was murdered by the off-duty Thai police officer.
“Because of you we can only see and kiss our son in photos. We can only visit him in our dreams or at his grave,” reads the letter signed by four members of the Del Pinto family.
If it doesn’t get read during the formal court proceedings, Ernie plans to recite it outside the courtroom.
During the 10-day trip, the Del Pintos also plan to hold a memorial in the village of Pai where Leo died.
His friend and fellow traveler Canadian Carly Reisig, was shot in the chest at the same time but has since recovered.
Reisig recently told the Herald she doesn’t plan to go back to Thailand for the proceedings or for any reason as she feels unsafe. She said she plans to follow the case from her B.C. home.
Reisig said her recovery has been extremely difficult.
“Physically, I will never be as strong and I deal with emotional issues constantly,” she wrote in a message. “It’s still very hard to believe what happened.”
For years, Ernie fought for justice for his son, meeting with government officials and putting pressure on both the Thai and Canadian governments. Finally, in early July, Dechawiwat changed his plea.
The man is currently serving a 25-year sentence for clubbing his 18-year-old pregnant wife to death.
Reisig said she was stunned to learn Dechawiwat changed his plea, adding: “It’s time he gets punished for the life he has taken and the pain and grief he has caused.”