December 8, 2019

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Accused in Wolseley murder trial claims no memory of stabbing

Just hours after meeting a neighbour who was searching for a lost dog, Brenda Schuff found herself in a life-or-death struggle with Judy Kenny, jurors were told Tuesday.

"I was terrified," Schuff testified, crying. "I knew she was going to kill me."

Brenda Schuff, 46, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of her neighbour.

Brenda Schuff, 46, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of her neighbour.

Kenny, 54, was found dead in the kitchen of her Camden Place home in the early hours of April 10, 2017. She had been beaten and stabbed multiple times in the head and body.

Her neighbour in the Wolseley area of Winnipeg, Schuff, 46, is on trial for second-degree murder.

Schuff told court she and her husband, Rob Atkins, had a friend over for dinner the previous evening. Their friend left for home around 11 p.m., and Atkins went to bed around midnight. Schuff said she was watching television sometime later, when she heard what sounded like somebody calling for a dog.

"I thought maybe I could help look for the dog," Schuff said. "I got up, put on my shoes... (and) went out the back door."

Schuff said she followed the voice and found Kenny — whom she had not met before — with two dogs on the Wolseley School grounds.

"She had been dog-sitting and she was really worried the dog had got out," Schuff said. "She seemed very nice."

Schuff said they talked for a bit and learned they lived only two doors apart. After searching for the missing dog a bit longer, Schuff suggested Kenny call 311, and Kenny invited her to her house for a drink.

Judy Kenny, 54, was found dead in the kitchen of her Camden Place home in the early hours of April 10, 2017. She had been beaten and stabbed multiple times in the head and body.

Judy Kenny, 54, was found dead in the kitchen of her Camden Place home in the early hours of April 10, 2017. She had been beaten and stabbed multiple times in the head and body.

Schuff said she and Kenny chatted in the kitchen for about 90 minutes, "getting to know each other."

Events took a strange turn, Schuff said, when she asked to use the bathroom. Schuff said she had walked upstairs to the bathroom when, just 30 seconds later, she heard Kenny yelling, "What are you doing? What's taking so long?"

"She sounded angry," Schuff said. "I didn't know what to think. I said, 'I'm coming, I'm coming right down.'"

Kenny "calmed down" after a time, and Schuff said she was going to go home.

"She said, 'Oh no, please stay, just a little bit more.' I hesitated, but I agreed to stay."

Later, after a second trip to the washroom, Schuff returned to the kitchen, put her hand on Kenny's shoulder and said she was going home.

"She kind of looked at me, put her hand on my hand and said, 'You're not going anywhere,'" Schuff said. "I tried to take my hand back, but she clamped down and gripped it."

Kenny started making loud "chomping" noises with her teeth and started pushing her, Schuff said.

"Her whole face had changed. Her eyes were wide and wild. Her face just looked tight."

Schuff said she cried for help as she tried to hold Kenny back.

"I just started saying, 'Jesus, Jesus Christ, what the f—- is going on," Schuff said. "She said, 'You don't even know the Lord's Prayer?' Her voice was shaking and she just started to shake."

Schuff said Kenny pushed her into the dining room.

"I see her arms kind of flailing around. That's when I see she has a knife in her hand," she testified. "I was so scared.

"I was holding her hair and I just hit at her face."

Schuff said she hit Kenny two or three times in the face before everything "flickered and got dark."

Schuff told the jury, the next thing she remembered, she was standing in her own kitchen with her husband, who was "looking very concerned."

She said she has no memory of stabbing Kenny.

"As horrible as it is, I looked at the crime scene pictures to jog my memory," Schuff said. "Nothing has worked."

The Crown will cross-examine Schuff on Wednesday.

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

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