SASKATOON – A woman accused of killing her five-year-old son pleaded not guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday, despite an agreed statement of facts between the defence and prosecution saying she used a knife to cut her son’s neck. The lawyer for Kellie Johnson, 37, plans to argue her client wasn’t criminally responsible for the death.
“Essentially, the crown has made out a basic case and now we’re going to be raising this particular defence of Ms. Johnson being not criminally responsible,” said defence attorney Leslie Sullivan outside the Court of Queen’s Bench in Saskatoon.
Police were called around 5:30 a.m. CT on Jan. 4, 2014 to a home on Avenue R South. Jonathan Vetter was declared dead at the scene. An autopsy later revealed the boy died of deep wounds in his neck.
Johnson attended St. Paul’s Hospital briefly on Jan. 4, before appearing on video surveillance at a McDonald’s restaurant shortly after six o’clock the same morning. She then checked in at the triage desk of Royal University Hospital, complaining of hallucinations, according to the statement of facts.
Just before 7 a.m., Saskatoon police arrested the woman.
Court viewed a video of Johnson’s interview with police the evening of Jan. 4. She repeatedly told an investigator she didn’t want to speak about the incident without a lawyer present.
She also told him about her hallucinations of a woman who threatened to send her and her children to hell.
“There was a period of time when I didn’t sleep at night at all ‘cause she would keep me up all night and just hallucinations were severe,” Johnson said in the video.
The burden is on the defence to prove Johnson wasn’t capable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act and knowing the act was wrong.
“If the evidence doesn’t support the defence of not criminally responsible, then there ought to be a conviction, or I suspect there would be a conviction for murder,” said Crown prosecutor Brian Hendrickson.
The trial is set to resume May 17 in Saskatoon and last three days.
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