SASKATOON — A defence lawyer has told a jury that a Calgary woman was acting in self-defence when she fatally stabbed her daughter during a fight over drug money on the side of a road near Saskatoon.
Kathy Hodgson-Smith addressed jurors Monday during closing arguments in the second-degree murder trial in Saskatoon of Frances Sugar, who is charged in the June 2014 death of her 34-year-old daughter, Lindey.
Hodgson-Smith pointed to testimony from a witness who said the women had been arguing about how to split the cash they had made from selling Ritalin pills on the street.
She also said Sugar's level of intoxication at the time was so high that she couldn't have formed the intent to kill her daughter.
Crown prosecutor Melodi Kujawa told the panel that although Lindey Sugar was the initial aggressor, nothing in the evidence suggests she was threatening her mother's life.
The eight-woman, four-man jury was expected to get final instructions from the judge Tuesday before starting deliberations.
The trial heard Lindey Sugar was taken to hospital with a neck injury and was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Her mother was charged after the RCMP got word of an altercation between two people on a road just south of Saskatoon.
Witness Dennis Kissling had testified he was in a vehicle with the women as it sped out of Saskatoon. He said the two started arguing and Lindey Sugar accused her mother of driving her out of town when she was a child, beating her and then forcing her to walk home alone.
He said the daughter threatened to do the same to her mother and she repeatedly refused to let the older woman out of the car before she hauled her from the back seat and punched her once they had stopped.
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Hodgson-Smith told the jury impairment is not a defence by itself, but the Crown, in order to secure a murder conviction, has to prove an accused had the intent to kill or cause serious bodily harm without regard for the fact it could very likely result in death.
Kujawa said killing the daughter did not amount to reasonable use of force. She pointed to Kissling's testimony that he heard Frances Sugar say, "You fight with the big boys. You go down like the big boys'' after the stabbing as evidence she wasn't acting out of fear for her life.
The trial heard Sugar told Mounties the knife she used came from the centre console of her daughter's car, but Kujawa said Kissling never saw either woman open the console at any point. The lawyer suggested it was just as plausible for the jury to believe Frances Sugar had the knife on her the entire time.
Kujawa pointed to forensic evidence which showed the weapon was a small, folding pocketknife with a blade about eight to 10 centimetres long, but that the three stab wounds on Lindey Sugar's body were quite deep. The prosecutor suggested that indicates a great deal of force and anger behind the blows.
The jury was also told an empty bottle of vodka found near where the accused was arrested suggests it was likely Sugar drank the liquor after the stabbing, not before.
Kujawa also noted Sugar managed to walk about 1 1/2 kilometres in the roughly 10 to 15 minutes between the stabbing and the arrival of police. Kujawa pointed out the knife was found tossed in some tall grass with the blade folded and suggested this was not consistent with someone so intoxicated she could barely think.