Under cross-examination on Wednesday, Terrance Finn told the court multiple times that he did not intend to kill his wife Sandra in August 2018.
“I am telling you now, with my hand on the Bible, I never planned to kill my wife,” said the 76-year-old Finn while under questioning from Crown attorney Frank Schwalm.
Finn’s first-degree murder trial got underway on Jan. 6 after he attempted to enter a guilty plea for the shooting death of his spouse at a Home Depot parking lot on Lansdowne Street in Peterborough on Aug. 22, 2018. However, the judge struck the plea down when the Westwood resident said he couldn’t definitely say if he meant to kill her.
Police and witnesses during the trial have testified that Sandra, 70, was found inside their car with two gunshot wounds to the head and that a loaded .38 revolver was found on the hood of the vehicle. She later died in Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto that same day.
The Crown has argued Finn had formulated a murder-suicide plan but Finn says his case is one of “diminished capacity” — a legal definition to describe a person who is unable to formulate specific intent necessary for a crime — as he represents himself in the trial by judge at Peterborough Superior Court.
During Wednesday’s cross-examination, Finn said he couldn’t recall the details of the shooting, claiming the gun must have “went off unintentionally.” A day earlier, court heard testimony from a firearms expert who said the hammer on the revolver has to be pulled back each time before firing.
“I don’t know what happened. I have no idea,” said Finn. “My mind went blank.”
“When did your mind go blank?” the Crown asked.
Finn responded that he didn’t know, that he was “in a different kind of mood.” He repeated that he and his wife of 55 years were “very close.”
Finn, getting visibly agitated on the stand, raised his voice while several times dismissing the Crown’s suggestion that the killing was premeditated.
The Crown also focused on Finn’s interview with police three hours after his arrest at the parking lot and noted Finn’s statement: “I made up my mind. I was going to shoot myself. Do her, and then do myself.”
“It’s not me,” Finn replied from the stand, claiming he was “not in a right state of mind” when the shooting happened and that he was “trying to fill in the blanks” and responded with “whatever came to my head” as he was questioned by the officer.
The Crown highlighted the fact the gun was loaded with five live rounds and suggested that a murder-suicide would solve any financial woes Finn believed his family had.
“You know what? Wrong,” Finn replied. “I don’t know what you’re badgering me for. I killed my wife. You’re going to get your win.”
The Crown also asked Finn if he looked at his wife following the shooting.
“I seen my wife,” Finn responded. “She was D-E-A-D.”
He said he couldn’t remember Sandra’s injuries and again refuted the Crown’s suggestion that he planned on killing his wife.
“Prove it,” Finn responded in a raised voice. “You got it on paper? You have any paper?”
The Crown also highlighted a “rational thought” in Finn’s interview when he inquired on whether police found two dogs in the vehicle and had contacted his children.
“You’re showing us you’re in the moment, you understand what’s going on,” the Crown said.
“There are moments I understand and there are moments I don’t,” Finn responded.
Finn is getting agitated on the stand. His voice rises. He dismisses the Crown’s suggestion that the killing was premeditated, pointing to his current incarceration in the, “cesspool in Lindsay.”
— Sarah Deeth (@SarahDeeth) January 15, 2020
The Crown then inquired about Finn pulling the trigger three times in the parking lot.
Finn says he pulled the trigger twice and testified Sandra “grabbed” for the revolver while inside the vehicle.
“I put the gun in the window like that,” Finn said, clasping his two hands together in the shape of a gun. “It just happened, because of the frame of mind I was in. Spontaneously.”
“And you spontaneously shot your wife dead as she sat in the driver’s seat?” the Crown asked.
“Yeah, I guess that’s what happened,” Finn said. “Spontaneously.”
The Crown also asked what happened for the second shot.
“I pulled it out, cocked and shot,” Finn replied. “I don’t know why I pumped two bullets in my wife.”
Finn said he asked a bystander near the car to call 911 because “I just shot my wife and I don’t know why” but doesn’t remember asking the bystander to look after his dogs. Finn claims he was heading back to the car to kill himself when police arrived and arrested him.
The Crown said Finn showed a strong presence of mind in everything that happened that day — except the part where he shot his wife.
The trial will resume Friday with closing arguments from the Crown and Finn.