On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada began examining whether the battered woman’s defence should be expanded to include the hiring of a hit man to kill an abusive spouse. The top court’s ruling — possibly as early as this fall — could reshape the groundbreaking defence for abused women that it established in a 1990 decision. Ryan claims her husband, Michael Ryan, a 230-lb. military man, repeatedly threatened her and their young daughter’s life should she divorce him, despite being separated for seven months before she contracted the supposed hit man. (via ts)
- Ryan had objects thrown at her head and was pinned against a wall by her newlywed husband, who “treated her more like a servant than a wife,” she and lawyer Joel Pink described.
- As the violence continued even after the birth of their daughter in 2000, Ryan began to also fear for the child’s life. Her husband described the piece of land he’d bury their bodies on and how he’d conceal them with piles of garbage.
- Pink said his client called the police at least nine times and begged for protection for her and her daughter, but got none.
- In March 2008, Ryan met the undercover RCMP officer at a Tim Horton’s two hours west of Halifax. She told him she needed the job done that weekend. When the officer questioned her about the imposed deadline, she told him: “I’ve been waiting long enough.”
- Nova Scotia prosecutor William Delaney argued Thursday that the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal erred in combining two criminal defences — self-defence and duress — neither of which apply to Ryan’s case since she was not in imminent danger because she had moved in with relatives and was in the process of getting a divorce.
- Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin had a sharp exchange with Delaney over whether the facts of Ryan’s case could be adapted to fit the Criminal Code definition of self-defence, under which the battered woman’s defence falls.
- But Delaney replied the defence advanced by Ryan’s lawyer had been one of duress, saying: “It seems to be … unfair to uphold a result on the basis of a defence that has never been advanced.”
- But McLachlin fired back: “It seems like a gamesmanship theory of justice … This court routinely clarifies, changes the law and then applies it to findings of fact.”
- Any attempt by the court to rewrite the law and combine the two defences would set a bad precedent by creating confusion, Delaney argued.
- The Supreme Court decision could ultimately affect how the law would be applied to cases of abused women, said Christine Boyle, lawyer for intervener the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.
- “What is at stake is whether there is a way in which the Supreme Court can encourage the police and prosecutors to exercise due diligence in enforcing the criminal law, restraint orders, probation orders, etc, so that abused women have the equal protection of the law.”
This reminds me of Melissa Friedrich. Back in the 80s and 90s, she killed several husbands and not only was she acquitted, but she even became a TV star, giving interviews on national television and even a documentary featuring several Canadian women who killed their husbands and were acquitted - Women Who Kill. She was only caught after she killed another husband in Florida.
In 2006, Mary Beth Harshbarger shot and killed her husband claiming she thought he was a bear. She was acquitted, even though he had previously told a friend that he feared for his life as his wife threatened to shoot him.
In Canada, husband-killing is a national pastime. Even foreign women come to kill their husbands here.