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Justice

Court hears closing arguments in Fort Liard murder trial


Warning: This report contains details of an alleged murder, as heard in court, that readers may find disturbing.

Selena Lomen was sober enough to know what would happen when she stabbed her common-law husband in their Fort Liard home, so she should be found guilty of second-degree murder, a Crown lawyer argues.

Brandishing a kitchen knife in NWT Supreme Court on Wednesday morning, prosecutor Duane Praught demonstrated the reverse grip he said Lomen must have used as she stabbed Danny Klondike in his chest just before 5am on October 28, 2018.

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“This is holding a knife with purpose. This is holding a knife with intent,” said Praught during closing arguments in the protracted trial, which began last fall.

“An adult human being who drives a piece of metal 18.5 centimetres into the chest cavity of another human being knows what the likely result will be.

“Miss Lomen’s alcohol consumption should not raise a doubt for this court, nor should her cannabis consumption on the night in question.”

Lomen’s blood was found on the handle of the knife and she had a cut on the lower part of her right palm.  

A video entered as evidence earlier in the trial showed 34-year-old Klondike face down on the floor with a large kitchen knife nearby. Also shown in footage from both inside and outside the home were blood stains and smears.

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The couple’s 14-month-old son, who was in the house at the time, was found uninjured by a neighbour but covered in blood.

Questioned by RCMP as she turned herself in, shortly after Klondike died, Lomen sobbed and confessed to the attack. “I killed him,” she is heard saying on tape.

However, she said she couldn’t remember all of the details.

Praught said her memory blackout was due to the emotional trauma of what she had just done, telling Justice Andrew Mahar he anticipated defence lawyer Peter Harte would suggest she was just very drunk.

There had been a Halloween party and fireworks display hours earlier in the community, at which witnesses said Lomen and Klondike were among many people drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.

Danny Klondike
Danny Klondike [centre] at a Halloween party in Fort Liard, hours before he was fatally stabbed in the chest by his common-law wife, Selena Lomen, seen immediately behind him to the left. This photo was entered into evidence at Lomen’s trial.

While witnesses mostly agreed Klondike was extremely inebriated, their accounts varied as to Lomen’s level of intoxication.

Praught described the couple’s relationship as “turbulent,” with Lomen angry over Klondike’s violent behaviour when drinking, while Klondike was convinced Lomen had been unfaithful to him.

Was the killing intentional?

In an agreed statement of facts to the crime of manslaughter, the Crown and defence agreed Lomen did unlawfully cause the death of Klondike by stabbing him in the chest with a knife. 

To be convicted of second-degree murder, however, the Crown must prove the homicide was intentional.

Praught maintained Lomen was extremely angry watching Klondike over-indulging and being “the life of the party … drinking, talking laughing with his friends.” Lomen wasn’t fully included in Klondike’s evening, leaving her feeling “alienated,” said Praught, and concerned over how he would treat her when they went home.

She left the party and, a few hours later, arrived at the couple’s home only to find the door locked, forcing her to bang on the door to try to wake up her passed-out partner, said Praught.

“This was the final indignation for Miss Lomen that night. That really brought the anger inside her all night to a new height, a new level,” he said. “When she was let into the house by Mr Klondike, she directed that anger at him.

“She lashed out at him … she went into the kitchen, she grabbed a knife out of the knife block … she walked back across the kitchen and, somewhere in the vicinity of the mudroom or the hallway, she stabbed Mr Klondike.

“It’s the Crown’s position that Miss Lomen, beyond any reasonable doubt, intended to stab Mr Klondike in the chest and intended to cause bodily harm. Miss Lomen knew Mr Klondike was likely to die.”

Selena Lomen in a photograph taken by RCMP
Selena Lomen in a photograph taken by RCMP.

During the final submissions on Wednesday, Lomen – appearing by video link from Fort Smith Correctional Complex – wiped tears from her eyes and buried her head in her hands. 

Harte rejected the Crown’s theory of what happened inside the couple’s duplex. He said Lomen was extremely intoxicated and was seen staggering toward her home.

He suggested Lomen was upset and afraid when she entered through the front door and passed by Klondike, picking up the knife for protection.

“There was some sort of a struggle,” said Harte, suggesting Lomen was attempting to leave and Klondike was trying to prevent her from doing so.

“Why is he going after her? She’s got a knife and is on her way out of the house,” he said.

“Backing up, she tries to get out. She stabs him he falls down on the floor.”

However, Harte said his client could not recall all of the details so he couldn’t advance a self-defence argument.

“If she really wanted to kill him, she could have waited until he passed out or went back to sleep,” said Harte. “Of course, then it would be a first-degree murder charge.”

Asked to respond, Praught dismissed Harte’s version of events as being “pure speculation.”

Justice Mahar reserved his decision until April 23.

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