Calling her actions vicious, sadistic and bizarre, a judge sentenced Brenda Schuff to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years in the 2017 killing of Judy Kenny, her Wolseley neighbour.
"I have no explanation why she felt Ms. Kenny had to die," Queen’s Bench Justice Rick Saull said at a sentencing hearing Friday. "I see no genuine remorse, but regret and fear for having been caught and convicted."
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 embedded in her eye socket.
Schuff, 46, was convicted of second-degree murder following a trial last spring.
Jurors rejected Schuff’s claim she acted in self-defence after finding herself in a life-or-death fight with Kenny, who defence lawyers tried to argue was deranged by a combination of alcohol and prescription medication.
"This was a vicious and protracted beating and stabbing in the most bizarre of circumstances," Saull said.
“I see no genuine remorse, but regret and fear for having been caught and convicted.” –Queen’s Bench Justice Rick Saull
After sentencing, Schuff nodded somberly to a dozen family members and supporters as she was led out of court by sheriff’s officers.
Schuff testified at trial she met Kenny for the first time just hours before the fatal attack, while Kenny was searching for a lost dog. Schuff helped her and later 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 house. During a subsequent struggle, Kenny brandished a knife, Schuff alleged, causing her to fear for her life.
Schuff told jurors she punched Kenny two or three times in the head before everything "flickered and got dark." She said the next thing she remembered was standing in her own kitchen with her husband.
Saull dismissed Schuff’s claim she suffered a blackout, saying she provided jurors with "specific recall" of everything that preceded the attack and a short time later approached police at the scene with bloody hands, telling them: "I’m the one you are going to want to talk to about this."
"That is not consistent with blacking out," Saull said.
Kenny suffered additional slashing and stomping injuries to her body and three broken ribs — evidence, Saull said, of sadism.
"Her expression of empathy rings hollow." ‐Queen’s Bench Justice Rick Saull
Kenny was especially vulnerable and easily overwhelmed by Schuff’s attack, Saull said. Kenny’s blood alcohol level at the time she was killed was three times over the legal limit for driving.
The absence of defensive wounds on Kenny's body show she was either too intoxicated to ward off the attack or was already unconscious, Saull said.
Prosecutors argued there may have been a sexual component to the killing, as police found Kenny topless, with her tights on backwards.
"Whether it was or wasn’t (a sexual assault), I do take into consideration the manner in which the victim was dressed," Saull said, adding Kenny had been "defiled."
Following her arrest, Schuff "was easily able to slough off what she had done," Saull said, and joked with police officers about using evidence bags affixed to her hands as puppets.
At a hearing Monday, Schuff told court she was "sickened and repulsed" by her actions and apologized to Kenny's family.
"Her expression of empathy rings hollow," Saull said Friday.
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.