January 21, 2020

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Man tells murder trial wife 'in shock', had blood on hands

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/6/2019 (222 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Robert Atkins was asleep in bed early on April 10, 2017, when he was shaken awake by his common-law wife, Brenda Schuff.

"She says she needs help," Atkins testified at Schuff's second-degree murder trial on Thursday. "She's not saying a lot, she's not making a lot of sense... It seemed like she was in shock. She was trying to speak to me, but the words weren't coming out properly."

Brenda Schuff

Brenda Schuff

Atkins followed Schuff downstairs, where he noticed that she had blood on her hands and shirt.

"She said something about Judy being outside," Atkins said. When Atkins asked her what had happened, "she (tried) to answer me, but nothing was coming out."

Two doors over from Atkins and Schuff's Camden Place home, 54-year-old Judy Kenny lay dead on her kitchen floor, a kitchen knife had been plunged into her eye.

Atkins said he told Schuff to stay inside while he went outside to "see what was going on," but she immediately made a move to leave out the back door.

"I grabbed her by the shirt and she followed me back into the kitchen," Atkins said. "I asked her if we should call police... There was no response."

A police cruiser pulled up outside the house and Atkins told Schuff they should go out and talk to police. Schuff walked outside ahead of Atkins while he put on his shoes.

"She was on the front sidewalk speaking to a police officer and shortly after that he handcuffed her," Atkins testified.

Patrol Sgt. Ari Mamott has testified that when Schuff approached him, she had bloody hands. She said, "I'm the one you are going to want to talk to about this."

Prosecutors allege Schuff met Kenny while she was outside looking for a friend's dog. The two women returned to Kenny's home to socialize, during which time Schuff beat, stomped and stabbed Kenny to death, the Crown believes.

Atkins said he and Schuff had a friend over for dinner the previous evening and that he had gone to bed by 11 p.m. He said Schuff had had only a couple of beers and some wine and was not intoxicated.

Judy Kenny.

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Judy Kenny.

"It was just a very casual, boring night," Atkins said. "If it wasn't for the event that brought us here today, I don't think I would have remembered that evening. It was pretty quiet."

Atkins said he has never seen Schuff act violently or hit anyone in the 10 years they have been together.

Schuff and her son, Alexander Schuff, exchanged smiles as Alexander took his place in the witness box. Schuff's smile briefly gave way to tears before Alexander started his testimony.

Alexander, 22, told court he was in his bedroom playing video games when he heard his mother come up the stairs around 3 a.m.

"She was kind of moaning and whining almost," Alexander said. "I heard 'help, please help.'"

Alexander said he stayed in his room and pretended to be sleeping when Atkins and his mother went downstairs.

"I wasn't sure what was going on and I didn't want to get involved," Alexander said. "I think it was the tone of her voice. I never heard that tone of voice before."

Later in his testimony, Alexander said he had smoked marijuana about 20 minutes before hearing his mother walk upstairs.

A police footwear-impression specialist told court footwear impressions found on Kenny's body, porch and deck were "consistent with" a bloody shoe seized from Schuff following her arrest.

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

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