There was a surprise turn of events in a Winnipeg courtroom on Wednesday when a woman charged with conspiring to have her estranged husband killed was accused of actually being his murderer.
Melody Sanford has been in jail since her arrest on murder conspiracy charges in January 2008. She was accused of conspiring with another woman — a long-time friend — to have her husband killed.
Ivan Radocaj, 43, was a former professional wrestler known as the Croatian Giant. He was found dead of blunt force trauma in his Komarno, Man., home in September 2007.
Crown and defence lawyers had reached an agreement for Sanford to plead guilty to the conspiracy charge on Wednesday, but instead, prosecutor Brian Bell announced Sanford was being charged with first-degree murder.
After the short hearing, Bell would only say the charge was warranted after a further review of the case file was done.
Sanford, clearly shocked at what happened, wept audibly after the judge left the courtroom. Her lawyers said they would fight the charge as an abuse of process by the Crown.
Sanford will stay behind bars, and her case has been remanded until January 2010, when a pre-trial hearing is scheduled to take place.
Three men also charged with the killing will also take part in the pre-trial hearing.