Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Unusual homicide case takes new twist

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SHE has spent the past year behind bars, accused of deliberately running over and killing her pregnant sister.

But a Manitoba woman will remain in custody indefinitely after she applied for bail Thursday, only to suddenly abandon her bid for release following the Crown’s submission to the judge.

It was a strange development in a highly unusual homicide case.

Pandora Nancy Owens, 25, is charged with first-degree murder for the June 2013 incident in Little Grand Rapids, located nearly 300 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

The allegations have not been proven and she is presumed innocent.

Madison Blossom McKay, 22, died of massive injuries after being run over by a truck. She was six months’ pregnant at the time, and doctors were unable to save the fetus.

Owens appeared in Court of Queen’s Bench Thursday before Justice Vic Toews, seeking to be released on conditions that included staying at the Elizabeth Fry Society. A court-ordered ban prevents specific details of the hearing from being published.

The Crown is opposed to her release and made a lengthy submission to the court. Then, as defence lawyer Bill Armstrong was getting set to make his arguments, he announced the bail application was being withdrawn.

Court records obtained by the Free Press show Owens is no stranger to the justice system. She was out on bail at the time of the killing for charges including assault and driving impaired, for which she has now pleaded guilty and been sentenced. And she has a prior drug-related conviction.

A first-degree murder charge is the most serious in the Criminal Code and indicates justice officials believe the killing was a planned and premeditated act rather than something spontaneous or unintentional. It carries a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years on conviction. The charge is rarely laid in Manitoba homicides because of the high standard of proof required by law.

Homicides involving vehicles are also unusual, although one other case is currently before the courts.

Leevan Johnson Harper, 19, of Wasagamack First Nation was run down in May 2013 in that community, located about 600 kilometres north of Winnipeg. Trevor Ronnie Knott, 18, has been charged with second-degree murder. Police say Knott and Harper were known to each other and had been "socializing" prior to the incident.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 6, 2014 A15

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