Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Husband attacked, 'just kept coming'

Woman details claim of self-defence killing

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Her words came slowly -- delivered in a hushed and shaken voice. Sometimes, she openly wept and wailed.

But it was Cassandra Knott's responses to the final two questions posed to her during a full day on the witness stand at her murder trial Thursday that speak directly to the real issue Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice Shane Perlmutter will soon have to decide.

"Did you really mean for Jerome to die that night?" Knott's defence lawyer, Gerri Wiebe asked.

"No," Knott replied, staring down at the floor, as she had for most of the day.

"What did you think would happen if you didn't defend yourself?" asked Wiebe.

"I would end up back in the hospital," Knott said.

Knott, 30, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of her husband, Orzias Joram "Jerome" Knott, 34, inside a suite at 357 Kennedy St. on the evening of Feb. 18, 2011.

She is seeking an outright acquittal on the basis the stabbing was committed in self-defence.

Knott testified Thursday on her own behalf. She relayed to the court details of degrading and ugly emotional and physical abuse she says she suffered at her husband's hands starting just weeks after they met on a remote northern community in 1998 and continuing virtually unabated until the day he died of a stab wound to the chest.

The defence is presenting the harrowing evidence to reflect her state of mind at the time of the incident.

Knott's abuse claims are backed in part by a lengthy agreed statement of facts presented to Perlmutter outlining police interventions, a stay at a women's shelter and trips Knott made to hospital for various injuries between April 2007 and 2010. The statement shows her husband had been convicted of assaulting her in the past, and was facing charges for attacking her with an alarm clock at the time he died.

The couple and the victim's brother had been drinking in a suite the evening of the incident when he became angry and began saying "mean things," Knott testified. She emerged from the suite's bathroom at one point and was confronted.

"Next thing I remember he was hitting me," she said. She pushed him away but he persisted, Knott said.

It appeared the dispute was waning when he put on his coat and boots as if to leave but Knott said he refused to go. She couldn't leave the suite either. "He was blocking the door," she said. The brother stepped between the couple, telling his kin to stop but he wouldn't, she said. "He just kept coming... trying to get at me," Knott said.

The next thing Knott remembered was "putting the knife down," she testified. "I don't really remember what happened after." It was she who dialled 911 for help.

The three wound up in the lobby of the building, where the victim fell to the ground. Court has heard police arrived in short order, taking Knott into custody and her husband to hospital where he later died.

Prosecutors will cross-examine Knott on her evidence Friday.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 8, 2013 A17

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