Edmonton

Alberta woman who killed husband released on bail pending Supreme Court hearing

An Alberta woman who shot her common-law husband to death has been released as she waits for the appeal of her second-degree murder conviction to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Deborah Doonanco says she was a battered woman, shot husband in self-defence

Court sketch of Debbie Doonanco testifying at her trial for second-degree murder. (Ivory Rose Hrabec)

An Alberta woman who shot her common-law husband to death has been released on bail as she waits for the appeal of her second-degree murder conviction to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.

In a decision released Monday, the Court of Appeal of Alberta concluded that Deborah Doonanco was neither a flight risk nor a threat to the public.

Doonanco shot Kevin Feland twice in the chest in May 2014, then set their home on fire.

A jury found her guilty in November 2016; in January 2017, she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 13 years.

"She was on bail prior to and during trial, and pending the outcome of her appeal to this court, all without incident," Justice Dawn Pentelechuk said in her ruling granting bail. "In total, she has been on bail unremarkably for approximately 56 months since the commission of the offences.

"There is no reason to believe Ms. Doonanco will not continue to behave in accordance with her bail conditions if bail is granted."

The retired school teacher filed a notice of appeal in February 2017 and was granted bail, which ended earlier this month when the Court of Appeal of Alberta issued a split decision and ordered her to resume serving her sentence.

The Glendon house belonging to Debbie Doonanco, where Kevin Feland's body was found May 25, 2014. (Court Exhibit )

Because the appeal resulted in a split decision, Doonanco automatically has the right to an appeal before the Supreme Court. While she waits for the high court decision, she requested the Alberta Court of Appeal to grant her bail again.

The retired school teacher admitted at her trial that she shot Feland twice in the chest in May 2014, then set fire to their house in Glendon, Alta. But she testified she was suffering from battered woman syndrome and was trying to save her own life from an abusive spouse. She characterized her situation as "kill or be killed."