A Winnipeg woman found guilty last summer of stabbing her neighbour to death just hours after they met should be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years, a judge was told Wednesday.
Brenda Schuff, 46, was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder in the April 10, 2017 killing of Judy Kenny.
Kenny, 54, was found dead in the kitchen of her Wolseley home on Camden Place, suffering 23 stab wounds to her face and chest. A kitchen knife was protruding from her eye socket.
Jurors rejected Schuff's claim she acted in self-defence after finding herself in a life-or-death struggle with Kenny, who defence lawyers argued was deranged by a toxic combination of alcohol and prescription medication.
Crown attorney Debbie Buors said while what sparked the brutal attack remains a mystery, Schuff’s goal was clear.
"There was one intent, and that was that Ms. Kenny never get up and walk away," Buors told Queen’s Bench Justice Rick Saull. "This wasn’t (Schuff’s ) house. Ms. Schuff had the ability to leave at any time and she didn’t."
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.
"Ms. Schuff came before the court and jury and tried to make them believe she had blacked out," Buors said. "I submit that didn't happen."
Kenny had no defensive wounds, showing she was either too intoxicated to ward off the attack or was already unconscious when the injuries were inflicted, Buors said.
Police found Kenny's body topless, with her tights on backwards.
"If Ms. Schuff was a man, we would assume by the state of her dress and the way her shirt came off that this was done in the context of a sexual assault," Buors said.
Defence lawyer Matt Gould, who urged Saull not to increase Schuff’s period of parole ineligibility from the minimum 10 years, flatly rejected the assumption, arguing Kenny's shirt likely came off during a struggle.
While jurors rejected Schuff’s claims of self defence, something prompted the attack, Gould said.
"What we are asking the court to accept is that there was action taken against Ms. Schuff by Ms. Kenny and Ms. Schuff reacted," he said.
For Marshall Kenny, Judy Kenny’s step-son, her murder was an all-too familiar tragedy. Marshall was 12 in 1984 when his mother was murdered on her 38th birthday. Years later, his father and Judy married.
"She was a warm, caring person who filled a void in our lives," Marshall told court in a victim impact statement.
Marshall’s father and Judy were no longer married when she was murdered. He called Marshall and said "It happened again."
"This was the second time I had lost a mom," he said. "How could that happen twice? … It was inconceivable."
The sentencing hearing will resume for more submissions Dec. 30.
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.