Edmonton

Accused killer makes another confession

Hours after Debbie Doonanco shot her ex-husband, then set the house on fire she confided in a former friend. She told her, "He’s never going to be able to hurt anyone again."

'He’s never going to be able to hurt anyone again,’ Debbie Doonanco told friend, trial hears

Debbie Doonanco's house is surrounded by police cars and crime scene tape in May 2014 after Kevin Feland was shot and killed inside. (Court Exhibit )

Debbie Doonanco confessed to killing her ex-husband during a hushed conversation in a hospital bathroom, her former friend testified at Doonanco's murder trial in St. Paul, Alta., Thursday.

Koreen Doonanco, the wife of Debbie's first cousin, told the jury she questioned the 54-year-old retired school teacher when she visited her at the hospital in Bonnyville, Alta.

"Did you do something bad?" Koreen Doonanco recalled asking.
Koreen Doonanco, former friend and married to first cousin of the accused. (Linked In)

She testified that Debbie looked her in the eye and nodded her head three times.  

"I was extremely stunned," Doonanco testified. "I asked, 'What did you do? Did you shoot him? Where?' "

She said Debbie tapped her chest three times.

An autopsy later revealed Kevin Feland, Debbie Doonanco's husband, was shot twice in the chest on May 25, 2014. Her house and his remains were set on fire.

Debbie Doonanco is charged with second-degree murder and arson in Feland's death. Doonanco admits she committed the crimes but claims it was in self-defence, to protect herself from Feland's abuse and death threats.

Hours after Feland's body was discovered, Debbie was taken to the Bonnyville Hospital for an assessment.

Koreen Doonanco delivered some clothes to her, then at the request of a nurse, escorted her to the washroom.

'Blown away'

Doonanco said she was "blown away" by what Debbie told her.

"She was quite calm, quite confident of what she had done," she testified.

"Then Debbie said, 'Pauline and Clinton are going to be very pissed that I've killed their son. He's never going to be able to hurt anyone again'."

Doonanco said when the women returned to the hospital room, Debbie wrapped herself in the curtain surrounding the bed, then smiled.

"'What's going to happen to me?" Doonanco recalled Debbie telling her. "'Maybe I'll get five years, 10 years. Maybe I'll get out on good behavior. Maybe I'll make some new friends'."

"She was giddy. Smiling," Doonanco testified. "I thought she was crazy."  

Soon after, Debbie was taken by ambulance to Alberta Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Edmonton. She was arrested the next day.

Defence lawyer Brian Beresh grilled Koreen Doonanco on the witness stand and attempted to challenge her credibility.  

Witness accused of taking sides

Doonanco claimed she ended her friendship with Debbie in 2011 after dealing with health problems.  

"She had sucked the life out of me already for many, many years," Doonanco testified. "I didn't want to get involved in her crap."
Accused killer Debbie Doonanco leaves the St.Paul courthouse with her father, Johnnie Doonanco. (Janice Johnston/CBC News )

Beresh suggested it was Debbie who had ended the relationship.

"Because you are the town gossip," Beresh said. "You are the person some people thought of as the town drama queen."

"Not correct," Doonanco replied.  

"You're taking sides in this dispute," Beresh continued, "and this is how far you're willing to go to cast aspersions on her."

Koreen Doonanco also denied that suggestion.

The trial is expected to last five weeks.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

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