Murder trial begins for man accused of shooting wife in Peterborough Home Depot parking lot

Terrance Finn, left, is lead to Superior Court in Peterborough for his murder trial on Jan. 6, 2020.
Terrance Finn, left, is lead to Superior Court in Peterborough for his murder trial on Jan. 6, 2020. Sarah Deeth/Global News Peterborough

The man accused of shooting his wife in a Home Depot parking lot in Peterborough in 2018 opened his trial Monday morning by admitting he pulled the trigger.

“Yes, I did, your honour,” Terrance Finn told the judge at Peterborough Superior Court when asked if he killed his wife Sandra.

However, when Justice Jocelyn Speyer asked if the accused meant to kill her, he responded: “That I don’t know.”

On that notion, Speyer struck down his plea from the record and ordered the trial to begin.

Finn has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of his 73-year-old wife on Aug. 22, 2018. That morning, police responded around 8 a.m. to the Lansdowne Street store, where they say Sandra was found inside a vehicle with life-threatening injuries.

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She was first taken to Peterborough Regional Health Centre and later died at a Toronto-area hospital, police said.

READ MORE: Peterborough-area woman dies in Home Depot parking lot shooting, husband charged with murder

Finn, who was 70 at the time, was arrested at the scene. Court documents list Finn as being from the community of Westwood in Asphodel-Norwood Township, about 23 kilometres east of Peterborough.

Prior to his trial by judge, Finn, 75, made several court appearances, insisting he wanted to forgo a trial and simply enter a guilty plea. His requests were denied, but in January 2019, a judge granted him permission to represent himself at his trial.

At Superior Court in Peterborough on Monday, Finn stated his case might be one of “diminished capacity,” claiming he doesn’t remember anything from the morning on Aug. 22, 2018 and saying that what occurred was something he has never done.

“That day is totally lost to me,” Finn told the court.

Finn, who is receiving a court-appointed amicus to assist with legal complexities, also said he denies planning the killing.

In his opening remarks, Crown attorney Frank Schwalm said Finn shot his wife with a revolver and then sat in the driver’s side of a vehicle, lit a cigarette and said to anyone within earshot: “Call the police. I just shot my wife.”

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Schwalm said Finn told police he was “overwhelmed” and “despondent” over the state of the couple’s finances following the sale of their home in Omemee, just west of Peterborough. Schwalm said evidence will show Finn told police he would shoot his wife and then take his own life.

Sandra Finn
Sandra Finn

The Crown says its goal is to prove Sandra Finn’s death was a “calculated scheme” and not an impulsive action.

The Crown first showed court a pathologist’s report, which states Sandra Finn was shot twice: once in the face and once in the temple. Court heard the injuries would have been “rapidly fatal.”

Peterborough Police Service Const. Ian Hepburn appeared as the Crown’s first witness. The forensics officer provided the court with photographs of the crime scene, which included a revolver on the hood of a vehicle and a black purse on the ground by the driver’s side door.

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Hepburn testified the revolver was fully loaded and cocked when police retrieved it from the scene. He noted that an examination determined the gun had been fired three times, with the hammer cocked and ready to fire a fourth live round.

READ MORE: ‘I want to plead guilty’ – accused shooter in Peterborough Home Depot parking lot insists on plea

The officer also said police found three additional handguns and three long guns all stored safely at Finn’s residence.

A search of Sandra’s purse turned up a paper with a to-do list, which included a stop at Home Depot and a drug store as well as a note to pay some bills. Also in the purse was an Aug. 21 receipt from Home Day for rental equipment, a doorknob and a lock.

The trial is expected to run two to three weeks.

Peterborough police announce the arrest of a 73-year-old man in Home Depot shooting
Peterborough police announce the arrest of a 73-year-old man in Home Depot shooting