A Canadian court docket has halved the sentence of a lady who killed her husband, revisiting a controversial case that exposed the authorized system’s “outdated thinking” of the realities of home abuse.
In a 2-1 ruling launched on Wednesday, Alberta’s court docket of attraction decided that Helen Naslund’s 18-year sentence ought to be decreased to 9 years.
“It is beyond time for this court to explicitly recognize that cases of battered women killing abusive partners involve unique circumstances that must be considered by the sentencing judge, particularly where battered woman syndrome is involved,” Justice Sheila Greckol wrote for almost all.
In line with an agreed assertion of information, in 2011 Helen Naslund, a grandmother of eight, shot her husband, Miles Naslund, behind the top whereas he slept. The killing got here after Miles Naslund had bodily and emotionally abused her for almost three a long time, prompting Helen Naslund to aim suicide on a number of events. After the killing, Helen Naslund and her sons hid Miles Naslund’s physique in a pond on their property, buried his automotive and stored the crime a secret for six years.
Whereas her son Neil obtained a three-year sentence, Helen Naslund agreed to a joint submission by the defence and crown prosecutors that might see her serve a sentence of 18 years for manslaughter, thereby avoiding a trial and the chance of a far harsher sentence if convicted.
The sentence made headlines again in 2020 as one of many longest handed down within the case of an abused lady killing her associate and prompted greater than 25,000 folks to sign a petition in her defence.
Within the attraction court docket’s determination, Greckol faulted the sentencing decide, Sterling Sanderman, for his failure to account for the a long time of abuse Naslund suffered.
“The sentencing judge suggested that Ms Naslund had ‘other options’ open to her, implicitly the option to walk out the door,” Greckol wrote. “For the sentencing judge to suggest that battered women have ‘other options’ is to invoke a stereotype that a battered woman stays in a situation of domestic violence by choice.”
Greckol additionally discovered the sentence of 18 years was extreme, pointing to a variety of earlier circumstances in Canada the place sentences starting from a suspended sentence to eight years.
“Counsel … failed to fully explain to the sentencing judge how they arrived at a sentence markedly harsher than those imposed in similar cases,” she wrote.
Writing within the dissent, nonetheless, Justice Thomas Wakeling disagreed there was proof of battered lady syndrome and argued that if Naslund’s case had gone to trial, she would most likely have obtained life in jail with no likelihood of parole for almost 20 years.
“I am satisfied that the notional reasonable observer would conclude that Ms Naslund has no good reason to complain about this bargain,” he wrote of the deal reached between prosectors and the defence, including that she by no means claimed to have obtained poor authorized counsel. “It has probably saved her many years of prison time.”
In a press release issued by her lawyer, Helen Naslund mentioned she was “incredibly grateful” for the assist she had obtained through the years.
“I hope that other women can benefit from the court’s recognition of the terrible situation in which battered women find themselves.”
Her son Neil told CBC News he was pleased with the end result.
“She will get to spend more time involved in her grandkids’ lives and have the chance to see her very senior father before he passes, and for that I’m very happy,” he wrote in a textual content message.
Along with her decreased sentence, Naslund might be able to apply for parole by the top of 2022.
Alberta’s crown prosecution has 60 days to determine if it’s going to attraction Wednesday’s determination to Canada’s supreme court docket.
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