“It’s amazing how complicated a few moments of someone’s life can become when you start trying to reconstruct it.”
Those were NWT Supreme Court Justice Andrew Mahar’s comments Wednesday after hearing lawyers’ closing arguments on Selena Lomen’s murder trial.
Lomen is on trial for the death of her partner Danny Klondike.
Lomen admits she stabbed Klondike in the chest with a kitchen knife. But the Crown rejected her guilty plea to the lesser crime of manslaughter and put Lomen on trial for second degree murder.
Crown prosecutor Duane Praught argued that Lomen knew without a reasonable doubt, that when she “drove the knife into his chest cavity, the result was likely to be death.”
In his final submissions to the court, Praught paints a picture of a woman unhappy in her relationship. He told the court the couple often argued over Klondike’s drinking and that Lomen had taken their infant son to stay with her mother in Fort Nelson, B.C. in the weeks prior and was planning to return.
There had been a halloween party in Fort Liard on the night of the stabbing and a number of community members testified that Klondike had been drinking.
Since the trial began in November, the court heard accounts of Lomen seeming upset looking for Klondike and community members recalling Klondike saying “my woman is mad at me.”
When Lomen returned home from the party, she found herself locked out of the house. Neighbours testified to having heard knocking and banging coming from the residence that night as Lomen tried to wake her sleeping partner.
“This was the final indignation for Ms. Lomen that night,” Praught said. “When she was let into the house by Mr. Klondike, she directed that anger at him.”
In Praught’s narrative of the events, Lomen is eventually let into the house. In a fit of rage, he said she stormed by Klondike, retrieved a knife from the kitchen, walked back to her intoxicated partner standing by the door and stabbed him in the chest.
The act left an 18.5-centimetre wound in Klondike’s chest cavity.
Lomen also sustained a gash to her right palm that night.
Using photos of Lomen holding drinks in her right hand from the halloween party, Praught argued Lomen is right-handed. Using a kitchen knife, he demonstrated how Lomen could have wounded her hand when it slid up the hilt as the blade went into Klondike’s chest.
Praught then went on to describe the minutes that followed – Lomen running to her neighbours’ to tell them she stabbed Klondike, and that “Danny’s gone.”
And he argued that it would be common sense for Lomen to understand that her actions would cause Klondike to die.
He said the foresight of Klondike’s death from the act and location of the stab wound is common sense.
“An adult human who drives a piece of metal 18.5 cm into the chest cavity of another human knows it will likely result in death,” Praught said.
Defence lawyer Peter Harte describes the events of the night a different way.
Harte tells the court that Lomen had concerns about what would have been waiting for her at home. Klondike had in the past been a violent drunk, he said, and had often acted rashly to try and keep Lomen from leaving.
Klondike a ‘violent drunk’
Knowing she was again planning to take their son to Fort Nelson would have upset him.
Harte points to an account the court heard earlier in trial where Lomen asked another party-goer to accompany her back to the house – though the other attendee ended up returning to her own residence instead.
Harte suggests that Lomen, once entering the house, took a knife to keep Klondike at bay. He describes the blood splatters by the door of the residence as demonstrating Klondike was facing the door and had been pursuing Lomen as she tried to leave.
“She’s panicked, she’s trying to fend him off, she stabs him,” Harte said. “It’s a horrible conclusion and proves fatal but the accident is in where on his body the injury takes place.”
If she had really wanted to kill him, Harte said Lomen would either have “just done it,” or waited until Klondike had fallen asleep or passed out.
In response, Praught called the narrative “pure speculation.”
Lomen was present at Wednesday’s hearing, appearing by video from the Fort Smith Correctional Complex. Her head remained down or in her hands for much of the proceeding.
Mahar told the court he would need some time to consider the evidence before making his decision.
Court will reconvene on April 23 to hear his ruling.