Day parole for wife’s killer in 1994 murder a mistake: victim’s sister


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Women are being put at risk of violence after day parole was granted to a killer who stabbed his estranged wife on a busy Winnipeg street, the victim’s sister has warned.

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Women are being put at risk of violence after day parole was granted to a killer who stabbed his estranged wife on a busy Winnipeg street, the victim’s sister has warned.

Bruce Stewner chased down and murdered Kelly Lynn Stewner, 23, in front of several witnesses on Portage Avenue near Assiniboine Park in May 1994.

His day release, granted by the Parole Board of Canada, was scheduled to begin in B.C.’s Fraser Valley Monday, said Kelly Lynn’s sister, Debra Peary, who opposed the decision.

Bruce Stewner chased down and murdered Kelly Lynn Stewner in front of several witnesses on Portage Avenue near Assiniboine Park in May 1994. (Jeff De Booy / Winnipeg Free Press files)

“What is needed now is the protection of our judicial system to take care of his last victim and the future ones,” Peary wrote in a statement to the Free Press. “I have no doubt he will seek prey because he is a predator.

“With that said, my family will continue to thrive regardless of what he’s done to us. He took a soul that did not belong to him.

“He will continue to seek and prey on the weak and vulnerable, but I refuse to let this murderer predict the rest of my life.”

Convicted of second-degree murder, Stewner, 57, was sentenced in February 1995 to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 20 years.

He violated a restraining order when he repeatedly stabbed Kelly Lynn in front of horrified witnesses, shouting: “I told you, Kelly. I told you this would happen. You got what you deserved.”

Stewner was granted day parole Nov. 28 for a period of six months despite concerns about the safety of potential partners and multiple previous breaches.

Parole board documents state he is a “moderate to high” risk to reoffend violently against an intimate partner.

“This suggests your relationships require close monitoring,” the parole board wrote.

As part of his release conditions, Stewner must report all intimate relationships with women to his parole supervisor. He is prohibited from using drugs or drinking alcohol.

Stewner is allowed to travel between Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Langley, Maple Ridge, Mission, Agassiz, Hope and Boston Bar in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, said Peary.

This is the third time Stewner has been granted day parole.

His day release granted in November 2012 was revoked in December 2013 for violations of multiple conditions.

Kelly Stewner’s mother Alice Cardinal (left) and Kelly’s sister Debra Peary talk to the Winnipeg Free Press. in 1995. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files)

According to parole board documents, Stewner cheated on a woman he married in April 2011, visited sex-trade workers, used drugs and tried to sabotage a urine test.

The extramarital relationships weren’t reported to officials, which was a requirement of his release.

Following the breaches, the board concluded in late 2013 his risk had increased “to an undue level.”

Stewner was granted day parole in November 2016, but it was revoked nine months later after he failed to report an intimate relationship, breached his alcohol prohibition and allegedly threatened someone.

In a bid to prevent his release, Peary flew to B.C. in 2016 to give a victim-impact statement at a parole hearing.

Stewner was denied release in June 2020 and February 2021.

In its latest decision to grant day parole, the board wrote Stewner has not been threatening for about a year and has shown better control of his emotions and behaviours.

“You have come to understand your risk factors and have developed skills to mitigate and manage your elevated emotions when they are triggered,” the board wrote.

Kelly Lynn’s sister isn’t convinced.

She noted life has gone on for Stewner, who remarried and had children, while Kelly Lynn’s family spend the rest of their lives without her.

“The feeling of the loss of my sister Kelly will never go away from my heart,” Peary wrote in her statement to the Free Press. “I do often wonder, however, how the people that day of my sister’s death have overcome what they saw.”

A memorial was placed on Portage Avenue near Overdale Street in 1998 to mark the death of Kelly Lynn Stewner. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Witnesses include a young boy, a mother who tended to Kelly Lynn, a man who tried to resuscitate her and a man who intervened and challenged Stewner, said Peary.

She said the daylight attack occurred after Kelly Lynn realized her estranged husband was driving her out of the city to kill her.

“She knew he was going to kill her. I knew he was going to kill her,” Peary wrote. “I also think the day that Kelly went with Stewner is because she was protecting our mother.”

Kelly Lynn tried to escape by running from his car at a busy intersection in St. James.

“This is why Kelly is my hero. She was strong and determined, and not ready to commit to death as he said so,” Peary wrote. “This is why she ran screaming for help at the corner of Overdale (Street) and Portage, the most prolific and public as she could get. She did not want to die.”

— with files from Dean Pritchard

Twitter: @chriskitching

Chris Kitching

As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

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