Former teacher on trial for 2nd degree murder; defence to argue battered women’s syndrome

Click to play video: 'Second-degree murder trial for former teacher gets underway northeast of Edmonton'
Second-degree murder trial for former teacher gets underway northeast of Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: A closely-watched second degree murder trial is now underway northeast of Edmonton in which the accused is a member of a well-known family and for years worked as a teacher. The accused has pleaded not guilty and the defence is arguing she suffered from battered woman syndrome. Vinesh Pratap reports – Oct 18, 2016

A closely-watched murder case is now underway in St. Paul.

On trial is former teacher Deborah Doonanco, 53, who is facing several charges including second-degree murder in the death of her common law partner Kevin Feland, 47.

The case dates back to May 2014 when the body of Feland was found in Doonanco’s home in the community of Glendon. Doonanco called 911 to report a fire in the home.

READ MORE: Alberta woman charged with husband’s murder after body found in fire

The trial is being heard by judge and jury. On Tuesday morning, opening statements were presented in St. Paul Court of Queen’s Bench.

Edmonton lawyer Brian Beresh is representing the accused. He told the jury the case is centred on self defence; that Doonanco endured years of abuse “suffered at the hands of Kevin Feland.”

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He described a victim who was “out of control,” whose drug use was “off the scale.”

Beresh has indicated the accused will take the stand in her own defence. And he talked about bringing forward another key witness in the weeks ahead – a “North American expert” on battered women’s syndrome.

In its opening statements, the Crown acknowledged the victim had a history of violence.

Court learned the pair were married in years past.

“There was clearly physical abuse in the first relationship,’ Crown attorney Dallas Sopko said in opening statements.

The pair divorced but reconciled several years later.

The Crown suggests in the renewed relationship the victim, Feland, was not violent; that “electronic messages” to be presented as evidence will show “an accurate picture of the relationship,” according to Sopko.

The Crown told the jury Feland was shot twice in the chest as he lay on the couch.

The case has drawn significant interest in the Glendon area. Doonanco’s father, Johnnie Donnanco, spent nearly 40 years as mayor of Glendon.

The proceedings are being heard by judge and jury. The trial is scheduled for the next five weeks.

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Doonanco is currently out on bail.


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