A woman known as the Internet Black Widow, who poisoned her newlywed husband more than two years ago, made a surprise appearance in court on Friday when the Crown sought to limit her freedom.
Melissa Ann Shepard, now in her early 80s, is finishing a three-and-a-half year sentence for administering a noxious substance and failing to provide the necessaries of life to her husband at the time.
Shepard was only in Dartmouth provincial court for a few minutes on Friday. She was wheeled into the courtroom in a wheelchair, shielding her face from the TV camera.
Shepard, who has altered her appearance several times in the past, now has white hair.
She failed to qualify for early release from prison and had to serve her full sentence, which expires next week.
Crown wants no access to drugs, internet
Before she walks free, the Crown is looking to impose limits.
"We're making an application for what's called a protective peace bond under section 810.2 of the code, which allows us to monitor Miss Shepard when she's released from prison," James Giacomantonio, a Crown prosecutor, said outside court.
The order would impose a nighttime curfew and require Shepard to report all relationships she has with men.
Because of her history of using drugs to poison her male partners, the Crown is looking to restrict her access to drugs such as benzodiazepine, used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
The Crown also wants to restrict Shepard's access to the internet because she has pursued men through internet dating services.
Shepard had been charged with attempted murder and administering a noxious substance — listed in court documents as benzodiazepine — after Fred Weeks, her newlywed husband, fell ill at a bed and breakfast in Cape Breton in September 2012.
Weeks was 75 years old when Shepard spiked his coffee with tranquillizers. He survived.
Long history with the law
Shepard has a long history with the law. In 1991, she was convicted of manslaughter and served two years of a six year prison term after killing her husband, Gordon Stewart of P.E.I., on a deserted road near Halifax. Stewart was heavily drugged when she ran over him twice with a car.
Shortly after she was released, she travelled to Florida and met Robert Friedrich at a Christian retreat. They married in Nova Scotia in 2000.
A year later, Friedrich's family noticed his health was faltering. He had mysterious fainting spells and slurred speech and was in and out of hospitals.
Friedrich's family also alleged his money had started to disappear.
Friedrich died in 2002 of cardiac arrest. No one was charged.
In 2005, she was sentenced to five years in prison for a slew of charges stemming from a relationship she had with another Florida man she met online.
She pleaded guilty to seven charges including three counts of grand theft from a person 65 years or older, two counts of forgery and two counts of using a forged document.
Because she wasn't prepared to sign the order on Friday, Shepard's case will return to court next week.