A Saint John woman being retried of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of her common-law husband took the stand in her own defence on Tuesday.

Crystal Dawn MacKenzie, 30, spent most of Tuesday morning telling the Court of Queens Bench how she couldn't remember much of what happened on March 15, 2010, the day she is accused of killing Patrick Thomas, 29.

MacKenzie stood trial on the same charge in 2010, but the verdict was appealed by the Crown and thrown out by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.

On Tuesday, John Henheffer, the Crown prosecutor, kept going over the details of the day in question — details provided by the testimony of other witnesses.

MacKenzie said she was very drunk that night and doesn't remember much. 

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Crystal Dawn MacKenzie says she was trying to protect herself and her three children. (CBC)

She said she did remember grabbing a kitchen knife from a neighbour's apartment and that Thomas had been hurting her and she was trying to protect herself and her three children, she said.

'I don't remember stabbing him. I remember him strangling me.'—Crystal Dawn MacKenzie

"I don't remember stabbing him. I remember him strangling me," she said.

MacKenzie's defence lawyers contend she was a victim of domestic violence and acted in self-defence.

When asked why she didn't call police, MacKenzie said she had no faith in the law. She had called police before and Thomas would be taken away, but he would eventually return and start beating her again, she said.

"Who stabbed him?" continued Henheffer.

"I think I did," replied MacKenzie.

Sobs, gags on stand

"Did you think he was going to die?" the prosecutor asked.

"I thought he just got stabbed in the shoulder," said MacKenzie.

"I didn't think someone could die from being stabbed in the shoulder."

The jury heard previous testimony that Thomas was actually stabbed in the neck.

"But he died that night?" asked Henheffer.

"Yes," said MacKenzie, as she started to sob, her head hanging down.

Brian Munro, a defence lawyer, requested a recess, but Justice William Grant said he would prefer not to interrupt the flow of questioning.

MacKenzie continued to cry, however, so the judge sent the jury out of the courtroom to give the accused some time to try to compose herself.

MacKenzie then started making gagging noises and rushed to the bathroom.

Court resumed after about 15 minutes with continued cross-examination by the Crown.

'I'm going to kill him'

Henheffer asked: "Do you remember saying, 'I'm going to kill him. I've had enough'?"

"I don't remember saying that," MacKenzie said.

Earlier during the trial, which started last Monday, Albert Munn, a friend of the couple, testified they all got very drunk at a city bar and walked home together the day Thomas died.

Munn said the couple got into a fight outside their Alma Street apartment during the early morning hours, MacKenzie ran into a neighbour's apartment saying, "I've had it. I'm done."

MacKenzie then came back outside with a kitchen knife saying, "I'm going to kill him," Munn testified.

Thomas lunged toward MacKenzie, her hand came down with the knife and Thomas got stabbed in the neck and collapsed on the street, Munn told the courtroom.

MacKenzie has since remarried and now has a fourth child with her new husband.

The lawyers are expected to begin closing arguments on Tuesday afternoon and the jury could start deliberations as early as Wednesday morning.