Heather Wilson Duncan guilty of manslaughter in husband's death

A southern Alberta woman has been found guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of her husband.

Sundre woman found not guilty of orginal 2nd-degree murder charge

Heather Wilson Duncan, 63, has been found guilty of manslaughter in the death of her husband. (CBC)

A Calgary jury has found a southern Alberta woman guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of her husband.

Heather Wilson Duncan's husband Barry died in their Sundre-area home after being shot in the face in December 2010.

She was originally on trial for second-degree murder, which carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.

Wilson Duncan is now facing a mandatory minimum four-year sentence because the case involved a firearm, and the Crown says it won't ask for more than that.

Her defence lawyer says they may challenge the mandatory sentence because he feels it is too long for what was "clearly an accident." 

"Before the minimum, people used to get anywhere from no custodial sentence to six months. And, you know, considering her background, which is impeccable — no record, she's totally compliant with bail conditions, she's been a responsible citizen — so four years is a pretty harsh sentence," said Jim Butlin.

She will be back in a Calgary courtroom on Thursday for sentencing.

Members of her family were sobbing in court as the verdict was read out. She was allowed to leave the prisoner's box to embrace them before being taken into custody.

Earlier in the trial, the court heard the 911 call Wilson Duncan made the night her husband was shot. 

"I think I killed my husband.... Please come, please come right away, please come," the 911 call begins.

For the next 36 minutes she pleads with dispatchers at the other end of the 911 call to send help — telling the same story over and over again.

'It was a horrible accident'

"He gave me the gun," she said. "We were fighting and he said it was loaded."

On the tape she said she thought he was joking.

Wilson Duncan claimed the gun accidentally went off when Barry handed it to her and told her to shoot during a heated argument.

"It was a horrible accident,” Wilson Duncan testified during the trial.

She also testified she and her husband were both intoxicated that evening, saying they each consumed a full bottle of liquor plus more than a bottle of wine.

Wilson Duncan previously told the court they had both began to drink to excess after her husband retired.

"Some days we drank a great deal from morning to night,” she said.

Duncan said she had contacted an addictions counsellor on three occasions to seek help with their drinking habits.