June 24, 2018

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Man pleads guilty to killing just before trial set to begin

Nearly two years after a Winnipeg woman was found dead in her home, her ex-boyfriend has admitted to killing her.

Kevin Klassen, 39, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday in the death of 39-year-old Christina Stoyko, who had been granted a protection order against him in the months before her death.

As Stoyko’s supporters watched in court, Klassen admitted to killing Stoyko on April 21, 2016, two days before her body was found.

His guilty plea came as his murder trial was set to begin in Court of Queen’s Bench this week.

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Nearly two years after a Winnipeg woman was found dead in her home, her ex-boyfriend has admitted to killing her.

Kevin Klassen, 39, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday in the death of 39-year-old Christina Stoyko, who had been granted a protection order against him in the months before her death.

FACEBOOK</p><p>Christina Stoyko, 39</p>

FACEBOOK

Christina Stoyko, 39

As Stoyko’s supporters watched in court, Klassen admitted to killing Stoyko on April 21, 2016, two days before her body was found.

His guilty plea came as his murder trial was set to begin in Court of Queen’s Bench this week.

Klassen will be sentenced to life in prison and Crown and defence lawyers are expected to recommend a 10-year ineligibility period before he can apply to the Parole Board of Canada for release. He is set to be sentenced May 1, when members of Stoyko’s family will have a chance to tell the court how her violent death has affected them.

Although no details about the murder were revealed in court Thursday, pending Klassen’s sentencing hearing, witness testimony during his preliminary hearing last year brought to light the fact Klassen confessed to a homeless stranger, who later spoke to police.

The man, who was living in a tent under the Chief Peguis Bridge at the time, testified Klassen approached him and offered him crack cocaine, which they smoked together through the night. At first, Klassen told the stranger he’d had a fight with his girlfriend and she kicked him out, according to his testimony. The next day, the man testified, Klassen said he needed to come clean.

"He says, I need to tell you the truth, and he says, I killed my girlfriend. And then he just basically walked me through what happened. They’d had a fight and he knew she had some money and she wasn’t going to give it to him, and he said, I just lost it. And that he choked her. And he showed me what he did, and he heard her neck crack."

The witness testified Klassen demonstrated how he’d choked his girlfriend from behind and said he appeared remorseful.

"He just said that he loved her and also that he actually wanted to die and be with her."

Not knowing whether Klassen was telling the truth, the man said he rode his bike past Stoyko’s home at 560 Redwood Avenue, saw police tape and spoke to the officers who were guarding the crime scene.

Police found Stoyko’s body in an attic stairwell in her home, according to officers’ testimony at the preliminary inquiry. A cabinet had been pushed in front of the attic door. Investigators found pawn shop receipts in the home and later learned Klassen had pawned electronics and jewelry believed to belong to Stoyko.

In 2013, Klassen was arrested more than once for attacking Stoyko, being verbally abusive toward her and robbing her to buy drugs.

"I’m sorry, so sorry. I love you, I want to be with you. I want to resolve the demons that I have. I won’t disappoint you," he told her during a July 2014 sentencing hearing, after he pleaded guilty to assaulting her.

In December 2015, Stoyko applied for and was granted a protection order against Klassen, which she wrote about in an affidavit filed in court.

"He asked if I’m going through with the PO (protection order). I said yes. He replied, ‘I’ll be in a world of hurt.’ I’ve added fuel to the fire," Stoyko wrote.

"This has been ongoing for quite some time due to the mental, verbal, emotional and at times physical (assaults). I need to help myself get out of this as I fear for my safety.

"He will try everything possible to get me to open my door, as he is very manipulative, deceiving, a compulsive liar and a criminal. I want my life back, please."

— with files from Mike McIntyre

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Katie May

Katie May
Justice reporter

Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.

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History

Updated on Friday, March 9, 2018 at 9:13 AM CST: Corrects headline

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