November 26, 2013 3:48 pm
Updated: November 26, 2013 9:07 pm

Woman accused of killing husband found guilty of manslaughter

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CALGARY- A jury has found Heather Wilson Duncan not guilty of second-degree murder, but guilty on a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Friends and family burst into tears as the verdict was read.

The 63-year-old woman shot her husband, 68-year-old Barry Duncan, in the couple’s home near Sundre almost three years ago.

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In court earlier this month, Duncan testified she had her husband had been drinking heavily and got into an argument, when he brought out a shotgun and urged her to shoot him.

She told a 911 dispatcher the night of the shooting that she didn’t realize the gun was loaded.
In final arguments Monday, defence lawyer Jim Butlin maintained the shooting was ‘an accident, plain and simple’.

The Crown argued “the evidence does show Duncan intended to pull the trigger”.

The jury returned its verdict Tuesday afternoon, just a day after starting deliberations.

The Crown says it will be satisfied with the minimum four year sentence, but Butlin says that would be harsh.

“Before the minimum, people used to get anywhere from no custodial sentence to six months,” says Butlin.

“Considering her background which is impeccable, no record, totally compliant with bail conditions, she’s been a responsible citizen  –  four years is a pretty harsh sentence.”

Butlin says he plans to review previous cases in which mandatory minimum sentences have been challenged.

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