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Surrey man wants first-degree murder conviction in wife's killing quashed

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A Surrey father of two who killed his wife four-and-a-half years ago wants his first-degree murder conviction overturned.

The man was 51 years old on Jan. 15, 2008 when he stabbed his 50-year-old spouse to death in the family’s home in the Fleetwood neighbourhood. He then tried to take his own life by swallowing a cocktail of sleeping pills, liquor and insecticide, but was unsuccessful.

He was charged with murder shortly thereafter and was found guilty of first-degree murder in February 2010.

The killer cannot be named, nor can his wife, due to a publication ban on anything that could identify witnesses in the case.

The hearing of his first-degree murder conviction appeal took place Tuesday (Sept. 25) in the B.C. Court of Appeal.

During the murder trial in late 2009 in New Westminster Supreme Court, it was revealed that the husband had grown suspicious and jealous of his wife’s relationship with a childhood friend with whom she had re-established contact.

In his reasons for judgment issued Feb. 5, 2010, the trial judge, Justice Bruce M. Preston, said while the nature of the alleged relationship was uncertain, it was clear long before the murder that the wife wanted to separate from her husband and that he would not accept the marriage was over.

On the day of the murder, the man took his daughter to school in the morning and when he returned, had a discussion with his wife, who said she’d be coming home late that evening. He assumed it was because she was going to phone her old friend.

During the trial, the husband testified he went to a crawlspace to get a computer device on which he recorded his journal so he could write in it. While there, he saw a large knife, which he took back upstairs.

His wife was lying on the bed awake. He stabbed her twice in the abdomen – injuries which proved fatal.

He then drove to the bank, retrieved several documents, including recordings of phone calls he’d intercepted between his wife and the man with whom he suspected she was having an affair. He arranged them on the kitchen counter before picking his daughter up from school and taking her to a relative’s house.

He returned home, took the pills, drank a small amount of insecticide and lay on the floor intending to die. When he didn’t answer the phone or pick up his daughter later, relatives went to the house and found a note on the bedroom door: “Please don’t open this door. Please call police. Call 911. We are both dead inside. I have killed A. and myself.”

Justice Preston said it was clear the man intended to kill his wife, constituting second-degree murder, but said it was also evident it was planned and deliberate and that he did not do it “impulsively” – meeting the requirements for first-degree murder.

The husband recorded conversations, said the judge, typed and edited them, kept them on a thumb drive, stored items necessarily for killing his wife and himself (knife, poison) in a crawl space, and had gathered important documents (mortgage, life insurance, wills) in a safety deposit box. The man’s murder of his wife, said the trial judge, “was the implementation of a scheme that he had conceived beforehand.”

According to the court registry, the appeal hearing Tuesday lasted just over an hour and the three Appeal Court justices reserved judgement.

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