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Manslaughter conviction upheld for woman who claimed she was victim of domestic abuse


CALGARY — A southern Alberta woman who claimed she stabbed her common-law partner to death in self-defence has been unsuccessful in having her conviction overturned. 

Vanessa Poucette killed Brennon Twoyoungmen during an argument in Morley, west of Calgary, in October 2016 and was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of probation. 

She admitted to stabbing Twoyoungmen, and the sole question at trial was whether she had acted in self-defence.

The trial heard that Poucette was in a long-term and abusive relationship with the victim and had been assaulted on two different occasions on the day of the attack. Justice David Gates, who was the trial judge, described the relationship as “volatile and troubled” but rejected the claim of self-defence saying the attack was not reasonable.

Poucette, who stabbed Twoyoungmen in the chest, did call 911 after the stabbing when Twoyoungmen was still alive but, due to confusion with the address, emergency responders didn't arrive for nearly an hour.

Twoyoungmen had already died from his injuries by the time paramedics arrived. 

Poucette's lawyers argued before the Alberta Court of Appeal that there were errors in the trial, including the judge failing to properly consider the self-defence test and that Poucette was a victim of battered woman syndrome.

The judges found the appeal was without merit and that the trial judge did not err in his assessment.

"Ms. Poucette testified she acted in self-defence when she stabbed Mr. Twoyoungmen. She also asked the trial judge to find that she was abused by Mr. Twoyoungmen and that she was a victim of battered woman syndrome," writes Justice Bruce McDonald.

"The trial judge also found, however, that Ms. Poucette did not view the assault that night to be different from other abuse she had suffered at the hands of Mr. Twoyoungmen," he added.

"In conclusion, we dismiss the appeal."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2021. 

The Canadian Press

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