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This article was published 26/6/2019 (408 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Brenda Schuff dropped her head into her hands and cried after being found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2017 stabbing death of her Wolseley neighbour.
Jurors spent a full day deliberating before reaching a verdict Wednesday morning.
Schuff sobbed and embraced family members and friends during a break in proceedings. "I love you guys, thank you for everything," she cried, before being escorted from the Winnipeg courtroom in handcuffs.
Jurors rejected Schuff's claim she acted in self-defence after finding herself in a life-or-death struggle with Judy Kenny, who defence lawyers argued was deranged by a toxic combination of alcohol and prescription medication.
Kenny, 54, was found dead April 10, 2017, in the kitchen of her Camden Place home, suffering 23 stab wounds to her face and chest. A kitchen knife was protruding from her eye socket.
"I feel real grateful to the jury for making the right decision," Kenny's longtime friend, Tracy Ptashnik, told reporters outside the courthouse. "This has been a long two years."
Ptashnik met Kenny 20 years ago, when they both worked at CKY television, and remained close right up to Kenny's death.
"The most unbelievable thing happened to the most beautiful person," Ptashnik said. "I feel I still really miss my friend."
The minimum sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison, with no chance of parole for 10 years.
After the verdict was announced, Justice Rick Saull adjourned proceedings briefly so jurors could consider if they wanted to recommend a period of parole ineligibility: six jurors said 10 years, four said 15 years, and two had no recommendation.
Schuff, 46, will be formally sentenced at a later date.
Saull urged defence lawyer Matt Gould to order a psychiatric report in advance of sentencing.
"I think we can all agree the circumstances leading to the offence are bizarre," the judge said.
He also rejected Gould's request Schuff be allowed to remain free in the community, pending sentencing.
The murder was "a crime of extremely unsettling circumstances... with no clear explanation," Saull said. "Under these circumstances, it is not in the public interest to release her into the community."
Schuff testified at trial she met Kenny for the first time just hours before the fatal attack, as Kenny searched for a lost dog. Schuff helped her in the search, and then joined her at Kenny's home to socialize.
Schuff claimed Kenny became angry after she spent too much time in the bathroom, and later blocked her exit from the residence. During an ensuing struggle, Kenny brandished a knife, causing her to fear for her life, Schuff testified.
Schuff said she punched Kenny two or three times in the head, after which everything "flickered and got dark." She said the next thing she remembered was standing in her own kitchen with her husband.
"Going before a jury and telling the trial that there are parts you can't remember is very unsatisfying," Gould said outside court. "As unsatisfying as it may be for someone to have a gap, it's also understandable."
Police found Kenny's body topless, with her tights on backwards. Prosecutors rejected Schuff's memory loss as "convenient," and argued she attacked Kenny after the homeowner rejected her sexual advances.
The number of injuries Kenny suffered — including stomping injuries to her head, arms and shoulders, and four broken ribs — was indicative of an enraged attacker, not someone who was defending herself, Crown attorney Debbie Buors told jurors in a closing argument Monday.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.
Updated on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 12:50 PM CDT: Updates headline
4:00 PM: writethru
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