Battered Woman Found Not Guilty For Killing Her Husband As He Beat Her
Thursday, Apr. 17th, 2014 (1933 views)
he Cassandra Knott case will be historically relevant and not because of the verdict handed down in the second degree murder trial. The controversy surrounding this case is more about the benefits of cameras in a courtroom than it is about a battered woman who was defending herself against her abusive husband.
Cassandra Knott suffered years of documented abuse at the hands of Orzias, her husband. She had multiple hospital stays, restraining orders, pressed charges, stayed in shelters and tried to leave the relationship on several occasions. She admitted no matter where she went, her husband found her and this included residing in a different city. The night in question, her husband had been verbally abusive, prevented her from leaving the residence, destroyed property, assaulted her and cornered her in the kitchen while attacking her as another person tried to intervene. While trying to fend off the attack she grabbed a steak knife and stabbed him. She seemed to have good aim and it went through his heart and he died. She was charged with second degree murder because the Crown counsel thought she did it out of vengeance, anger and had other options to defend herself.
The judge in the case found Ms. Knott NOT GUILTY as she had no choice but to defend herself as she was in imminent danger. I have read the entire verdict and the judge does a fabulous job of laying out why she did not have any other options. The Crown counsel was adamant Ms. Knott had many other choices that evening and was not in any real danger. She should have known from past history her husband's level of violence and he would not cause grievous bodily harm but only bruising and swelling.
The judge concluded "while under attack, she was not expected to stop and reflect upon the exact measure of force that was warranted by her defensive action. The accused was justified in repelling the deceased with the knife she found close at hand, even though, in hindsight she might have stopped the attack by using the coffee pot on the counter or the plate in the sink or stabbing the accused another way as was argued by the Crown counsel."
The Crown counsel wanted to know why Cassandra did not tell Orzias to leave? When she instructed him to do exactly that, he ripped out the call box for the apartment. The Crown counsel also stated Ms. Knott could not have been in that much danger because there was another person in the residence negating the fact that her husband was climbing over the person to get to Cassandra and had already assaulted her minutes earlier. The Crown counsel also stated Ms. Knott's killed her husband out of vengeance, anger and was only trying to fabricate a story that she was scared of her husband after the fact because she did not mention being fearful to the police. Even though Officer Landry testified that Ms. Knott's said "He was punching me and came after me, so I did it I stabbed him. He already put me in the hospital twice."
There were many police on the scene and their testimony of Ms. Knott's statement's were relatively similar. Officer Beaulieu testified Ms. Knott stated "He was coming at me and I did it. I fucking stabbed him. I stabbed him with a steak knife." However, Officer Leschied testified "I fucking stabbed him, they were fucking me and I had enough of it." This makes it sound like two men were having sex with her and she got angry about it.
People always wonder why I am so critical of the police. During an investigation, the original case notes do not have to be preserved. Reports are subjective and can be changed several times before the final copy is submitted. The previous drafts do not have to be documented nor saved. Officers biases and perceptions can effect case notes, reports and how the officer testifies. Officers are educated and trained to be unbiased while collecting evidence however, it is human nature that all people have some biases and have different perceptions of the same situations.
Some cases the deciding factor in a trial is the evidence collected and the testimony given by the police officer. The courts usually favour a police officer because of their training and ability to access the situation and report accurately and fairly. If Leschied was the only officer at the scene it would have put a very different spin on the case based on his testimony and his case notes. Not only did he not document Ms. Knott's injuries he left out important factual details.
A man beat, controlled, stalked his wife, had criminal convictions for domestic violence, assaults, was incarcerated, had programming to assist him with overcoming his propensity for violence and this did not protect his wife. Cassandra fled to shelters, hospitals, chronic interaction with the police for protection and this too, still did not protect her. She stabbed him when he was in the process of beating her again. Judge Shane Perlmutter understood the system was broken and found Ms. Knott not guilty.
However, I highly doubt this case of a battered woman would have made national news and had been on every media outlet if it had not been a historical moment. The news prominently featured how cameras were allowed in a courtroom showcasing how justice and the courtroom worked. Perhaps I did not witness the same justice as everyone else, since, witness testimony, jury trials and family court cases won’t be televised. This means only certain trials and/or certain aspects of the trial will be broadcast. What are the deciding factors for trials to be deemed worthy enough to be televised? How will this system not become biased and prejudicial?
trials were televised and transparent; we would witness the Crown counsel, lawyers, judges, police officers and experts from beginning to end. We would have watched the Crown counsel's position that Ms. Knott's used the cloak of self defence to "escape a miserable life of subservience"; while proclaiming she should have known that a man who had hospitalized her on several occasions and based on his violent history would not cause grievous bodily harm when he beat her. Perhaps it will then showcase how justice and courtrooms worked. As it stand now, we have an illusion that we have a fair and judicial system for all. [ www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/cassandra-knott-found-not-guilty-of-murder-as-cameras-roll-1.2611682 ]
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