Brenda Schuff admits stabbing her Winnipeg neighbour, Judy Kenny, to death — but it was in a fight to save her own life, jurors were told Monday.
"I can tell you from the start that this is not a case of good and evil, but one of necessity and survival," Schuff's lawyer, Matthew Gould, told jurors as the defence opened its case.
Schuff, 46, is on trial, charged with second-degree murder for the April 10, 2017, killing.
Prosecutors allege Kenny, 54, was outside her Wolseley residence looking for a friend’s dog when she met Schuff, who lived two doors away, for the first time. The two returned to Kenny’s Camden Place home to socialize, during which time Schuff beat, stomped and stabbed Kenny to death.
Gould said Schuff will testify Kenny attacked her, forcing Schuff to defend herself.
"You are going to have to put yourself in Brenda's position, and ask yourself how scared you would be if what happened to Brenda happened to you," Gould said. "Someone became unhinged that night, and you will have to ask yourself if it was Brenda or Judy.
"Brenda Schuff was faced with a life-and-death struggle, and chose to fight for her life."
Jurors heard Kenny had a blood alcohol level of .332 at the time of her death (four times the legal limit for driving) and three prescription medications in her system — one of which, an antidepressant named citalopram, was above the recommended therapeutic dosage.
The defence called a pharmacist to testify Monday, appearing to lay groundwork for an argument Kenny had an adverse reaction to a mixture of drugs and alcohol.
Jurors heard the drugs, when used to treat an assortment of "off-label" medical complaints, could result in side-effects that include aggression, agitation and hallucinations for less than one per cent of patients.
Pharmacist Felicia Foster said she had no way of knowing why Kenny had been prescribed the drugs.
Earlier in the trial, Charles Goulay, a close friend of Kenny’s, testified he had visited her at about 10:50 p.m. the previous evening to pick up his dog. Kenny had been looking after the pet while Goulay was out of the city.
Goulay said Kenny "was acting weird," and appeared to have been drinking.
Two hours later, Kenny called 311 to report the dog missing, seemingly forgetting about Goulay’s visit.
The Crown closed its case Monday morning with testimony from a pathologist, who said Kenny suffered multiple stab wounds to her head, neck and upper body, including one that penetrated her brain.
Several of Kenny's ribs were broken, and she showed signs of blunt-force trauma to her face, arms and hands.
Schuff is expected to testify Tuesday morning.
Updated on Monday, June 17, 2019 at 7:13 PM CDT: Fixes photo caption.