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This article was published 27/11/2018 (544 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A sisterly bond turned "particularly gruesome" when a domestic-abuse victim in Winnipeg was tasked with disposing of another woman’s body, after she was allegedly killed at the hands of the same abuser.
Holley Alyssa Sullivan, 30, was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday, and will serve two years going forward for being an accessory after the fact to the 2016 homicide of 42-year-old Jennifer Barrett.
"Jen was a beautiful, great person and I loved her like a sister," Sullivan said in front of Barrett’s family in court, as she asked for their forgiveness for dumping Barrett’s body into a barrel and trying to destroy it in a chemical mixture.
Sullivan, Barrett and three other women were all in an intimate relationship with Perez Cleveland, who is charged with the first-degree murder of Barrett and awaits trial.
The allegations against him haven’t been proven, but at Sullivan’s sentencing hearing Tuesday, Crown and defence lawyers agreed in court that he was abusing all of the women, who lived with him at 38 Forest Dr.
Sullivan wasn’t at home when Barrett was allegedly killed in the home in the summer of 2016, but she would later tell police Cleveland ordered her to dispose of Barrett’s body — and she did, because she was afraid of him. She stayed awake for days on methamphetamine while she was trying to dispose of the body over the course of a week, court heard. She had panic attacks and became physically sick.
"Ms. Sullivan was abused in a very profound way by Mr. Cleveland, as were all of the other women in the house, both from a physical perspective, as well as a mental perspective," Crown attorney Keith Eyrikson said in court.
He and defence lawyer Laura Robinson reached a plea bargain for the three-year prison sentence, acknowledging Sullivan co-operated with police early on in the murder investigation and decided to plead guilty. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Kroft imposed the sentence, calling Sullivan’s actions "very severe" and "particularly gruesome."
Eyrikson said Sullivan is expected to testify in Cleveland’s trial, but he said there was no deal to secure her testimony. She missed her previous sentencing date in September, and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
She was led out of the courtroom in leg irons Tuesday, tears in her eyes as she looked over at Barrett’s relatives, who had earlier expressed hope she would have done something, anything, to help Barrett before she died. They described Barrett as a caring mom who spent hours at her son’s hockey games and went to university to become a nurse.
"I hope today you start to feel some closure for Jen’s passing, as I take responsibility for my role in what happened, and that eventually, someday, you can forgive me for my actions," Sullivan said in court.
Another woman, Jessica Elizabeth Reid, is awaiting trial on a charge of accessory to murder after the fact.
Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.
Updated on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 9:21 AM CST: Final