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Closing arguments at Winnipeg trial for murder suspect of woman found in barrel

Perez Cleveland is seen in this undated police handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Winnipeg Police Service

A Crown prosecutor says a man accused of killing a woman whose body was found in a barrel in their backyard used manipulation and fear to control multiple women who lived in the home.

“Mr. Cleveland had a great deal of power over the women in that house and he abused that power,” Breta Passler said Tuesday during closing arguments in the jury trial of Perez Cleveland.

Cleveland, 46, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 2016 death of 42-year-old Jennifer Barrett.

READ MORE: Woman testifies about strange dynamic in home shared with Winnipeg murder suspect

Court has heard that Cleveland shared a house in Winnipeg with his adult daughter and five women, who were described by one of them as “sister wives.”

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Passler said the women all had unique vulnerabilities and had eerily similar stories about how Cleveland was initially charming before he turned abusive and controlling.

Four testified that they experienced extreme physical abuse, surveillance and manipulation during their relationships with Cleveland.

READ MORE: ‘I woke up with a gun pointed to my face’: ‘Wife’ of Perez Cleveland testifies during Day 2 of murder trial

Passler added that even though police uncovered a relationship document between Barrett and Cleveland, in which she described herself as his submissive, the woman began to fear for her life.

Cleveland became convinced Barrett was cheating, so he tortured her for days before she was killed, the prosecutor said. “(He was) physically and psychologically confining Jennifer Barrett.”

Barrett passed out after the prolonged violence, Passler said, so Cleveland threw water on her and shot her with a Taser. But the woman didn’t respond.

RELATED: ‘Wife’ of Perez Cleveland testifies during Day 2 of murder trial

Click to play video: '‘I woke up with a gun pointed to my face’: ‘Wife’ of Perez Cleveland testifies during Day 2 of murder trial' ‘I woke up with a gun pointed to my face’: ‘Wife’ of Perez Cleveland testifies during Day 2 of murder trial
‘I woke up with a gun pointed to my face’: ‘Wife’ of Perez Cleveland testifies during Day 2 of murder trial – May 17, 2019

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