While it was an “awful crime,” Selena Lomen did not murder Danny Klondike when she drove a kitchen knife into his chest, a judge has decided.
Her head facing down as she wiped away tears on Friday, Lomen was found guilty of manslaughter by Justice Andrew Mahar after a lengthy trial.
“I am left with a reasonable doubt as to whether or not she intended to drive a knife into Danny Klondike’s chest,” Mahar told the NWT Supreme Court in Yellowknife. Lomen appeared by video from the Fort Smith Correctional Complex.
“It was an awful crime. Her small child was left covered in blood. She brought a knife into an argument.”
The lack of other wounds on her common-law partner – and evidence indicating she might have intended to stab the highly intoxicated man in his shoulder – helped Mahar form his decision.
It also appeared Lomen helped her mortally wounded 34-year-old partner to a couch in their Fort Liard home. She ran to a neighbour’s house in a traumatized state to get help, then went to Klondike’s mother’s house to confess.
Mahar noted the couple had been having difficulties because of Klondike’s drinking.
He became jealous when drunk and had threatened to kill himself.
“There was a lot of strain in the relationship,” said the judge as some of Klondike’s family sat in the public gallery.
Mahar noted Lomen claims to have no memory of events after she entered her home, shortly before 5am on October 28, 2018.
“She remembers being angry … and stabbing Danny,” said Mahar, noting defence lawyer Peter Harte had suggested she was defending herself.
A video entered as evidence showed 34-year-old Klondike face-down on the floor with a large kitchen knife nearby. Also shown were blood stains and smears.
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.
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 cannabis.
While witnesses mostly agreed Klondike was extremely inebriated, their accounts varied as to Lomen’s level of intoxication.
She left the party and, a few hours later, arrived at the couple’s home to find the door locked, forcing her to bang on the door to try to wake up her passed-out partner. She had to wait 10 to 20 minutes.
The Crown and defence agreed Lomen unlawfully caused Klondike’s death by stabbing him in the chest with a knife. At issue was the question of intent.
To be convicted of second-degree murder, the Crown had to prove the homicide was intentional.
Sentencing will be held in Fort Liard at a later date. That will allow family and friends to attend. Four victim impact statements are expected.
“This was a traumatic event for the whole community,” said Mahar.
The next date for scheduling is May 31.