Wolseley woman found guilty of second-degree murder in neighbour's death
Published Wednesday, June 26, 2019 10:08AM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, June 26, 2019 6:41PM CST
A jury deliberating over a span of two days in the trial for Brenda Lee Schuff has found her guilty of second-degree murder in the April 2017 death of her neighbour, Judy Kenny.
Schuff, who was seated in the courtroom’s prisoner’s box, hung her head after the jury foreperson read out the guilty verdict at around 11:20 a.m. Wednesday in front of a packed gallery filled with Schuff’s friends and family, and Kenny’s friends.
Kenny’s friends could be seen wiping away tears after the verdict was announced. Members of Schuff’s family, including her adult son and common-law husband, could be seen with their heads down and some of Schuff’s friends cried after the decision came down.
Second-degree murder comes with a mandatory life sentence and no chance of parole for between 10 and 25 years.
Schuff, who’s been free on bail, sobbed and was allowed time to hug friends and family before she was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom by sheriff’s officers.
“I love you guys,” Schuff said to friends and family seated in the courtroom’s gallery as she was led away in handcuffs. “Thank you for everything.”
Schuff’s defence lawyers requested she be allowed to remain on bail until sentencing but Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Richard Saull dismissed the request, telling court the accused has been found guilty of second-degree murder for “a crime which arose out of extremely unsettling circumstances” and that there’s been no explanation for the “excessively violent behaviour” and “brutal behaviour.”
Kenny, 54, was found dead in the kitchen of her Camden Place home in the early morning hours of April 10, 2017
Court heard she had been beaten, stomped, and stabbed 23 times.
Court heard the two women were not previously known to each and only met hours before Kenny’s death when Schuff went outside to help Kenny look for a missing dog. They returned to Kenny’s home for a drink and talked before Kenny was found dead.
Schuff pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, and her lawyers argued she was acting in self-defence after Kenny initiated an attack on Schuff. Prosecutors argued Schuff was acting out of anger towards Kenny and committed second-degree murder due to the nature and number of wounds inflicted on Kenny.
Outside court, Kenny’s longtime friend Tracy Ptashnik told reporters the verdict doesn’t bring Kenny back.
“The most unbelievable thing happened to the most beautiful person. It’s hard to wrap my head around. We all miss her so much,” said Ptashnik.
“Regardless of the verdict, this really sucks for everybody but I feel grateful for the jury for taking the time to make the right decision.”
Ptashnik said she was friends with Kenny for 20 years. The two first met through work, at CTV Winnipeg, where Kenny worked as a receptionist.
“Judy was a beautiful person,” said Ptashnik. “She was the kindest person. She was always the one to give you a compliment on something – she lifted your spirits.”
Defence lawyer Matt Gould told reporters outside court the “severe verdict” has left Schuff and her family “absolutely devastated.”
“Anyone who’s in that courtroom can see that she’s absolutely devastated,” said Gould.
Schuff, who testified in her own defence, told the trial she saw a knife in Kenny’s hand and knew Kenny was going to kill her. The jury heard Schuff testify she punched Kenny two or three times before “everything flickered and went dark.”
Gould said outside court Schuff was telling the truth when she testified there were parts of the night she couldn’t remember and suggested the jury may have found that unsatisfying because everyone likes to know the entire story.
“Ms. Schuff took the stand, she clarified what happened. She provided her explanation – the jury rejected that,” said Gould.
“We don’t know why, the jurors not only don’t talk about it – they’re not allowed to talk about it, so from the perspective of defence that’s confusing and disappointing and it’s something that will affect Brenda Schuff’s life for that life sentence.”
Jury members were asked by Saull to give recommendations on how much time Schuff should serve before becoming eligible for parole. Six jurors suggested 10 years, four suggested 15 years and two gave no recommendation.
The sentencing judge will take the recommendations into consideration.
An exact date for sentencing has not been determined.