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Wife-killer in custody for parole violations

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Bruce Stewner killed his wife Kelly in 1994. He was released on day parole but was arrested in B.C.

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Bruce Stewner killed his wife Kelly in 1994. He was released on day parole but was arrested in B.C. Photo Store

Convicted killer Bruce Stewner is back in custody less than a year after the Winnipeg man walked out of prison despite lingering concerns about his threat to the public.

The Free Press has learned Stewner, 48, was arrested earlier this month in British Columbia for allegedly violating terms of his day parole. No other details about the allegations are known and federal officials refuse to comment.

A parole officer must decide whether to give Stewner another chance or cancel his release and refer the file back to the parole board. If so, details of what put him back behind bars would become part of the public record.

A decision is expected by the end of the month, sources said.

One of the key questions is whether further supports and restrictions can be imposed on Stewner if he's returned to the community.

Stewner was sentenced in February 1995 to life in prison with no chance of full parole for at least 20 years after a jury convicted him of second-degree murder for the May 1994 killing of Kelly Lynn Stewner.

Stewner violated a restraining order, chased his wife down a busy street and stabbed her to death in front of horrified witnesses as he stood over her body and shouted "I told you, Kelly. I told you this would happen. You got what you deserved."

Stewner was granted day parole in November 2012 in a decision that was criticized by his victim's family, who called him a master manipulator.

The parole board said Stewner had made several positive steps while in prison and noted he'd met a woman and married her in April 2011.

She went to bat for Stewner at his hearing last year, telling the board she believed he had changed.

"She says you have proactively addressed issues and notes that you have improved your ability to deal with conflict. She noted that accountability is important to you," the documents state.

Still, there were ongoing concerns about Stewner's ability to maintain a normal, healthy relationship with her, especially while in the community.

As a result, his parole-supervision team vowed to closely monitor his love life.

"You have a history of failed intimate relationships with women that often featured spousal violence," the parole board wrote in its decision, citing a 2010 psychological report.

"There have been suggestions by (prison) staff that you may still need to control and dominate women. Your risk to reoffend violently was assessed as moderate and your risk to reoffend in the context of an intimate relationship was assessed as high."

Stewner was given more than 300 escorted temporary absences from prison between 2008 and 2012. There were no reported incidents or concerns with those brief trips into the community, the parole board reported.

Day parole granted Stewner much more freedom, allowing him to spend considerable time in the community without supervision.

Stewner was still required to report nightly to a halfway house and follow numerous conditions, including abstaining from alcohol and following a mental-health treatment plan.

At Stewner's trial, he tried to convince jurors he was provoked into killing his spouse -- and should be convicted of just manslaughter -- because she had bragged about having an affair with his brother.

Stewner is eligible to apply for full parole next May, which is when he'll have served 20 years.

 

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 18, 2013 A3

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