Edmonton lawyer given 5 years for killing boyfriend during argument

An Edmonton lawyer has been sentenced to five years in prison for stabbing her boyfriend to death two years ago during an alcohol-fuelled altercation.

'Ms. Cunningham's degree of responsibility in this case is high,' Justice Monica Bast says

Laurie Cunningham had bruises on her face at the time of her arrest. (Court exhibit )

An Edmonton lawyer has been sentenced to five years in prison for stabbing her boyfriend to death two years ago during an alcohol-fuelled altercation. 

Laurie Jean Cunningham was heavily intoxicated on alcohol and sleeping pills the night she stabbed Mark Huemer with a chef's knife. 

Huemer was also intoxicated, but not to the same extent as Cunningham, Justice Monica Bast said Wednesday during sentencing in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench.

Before handing down her sentence, Bast called it a "senseless" crime that had far-reaching effects for Huemer's family and for Cunningham. 

Cunningham, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Monday, went to Huemer's house in November 2017. According to her testimony, they had been in an on-and-off relationship for just over a year, and Huemer proposed to her that night.

Things went bad shortly after the proposal, when Cunningham said Huemer started pressuring her for sex. He swore at her and demanded the ring back, then became violent, Cunningham testified. 

She told court Huemer started kicking her in the back "over and over." 

Cunningham, a family lawyer, testified that she tried to fight back and Huemer punched her in the face. 

He was on the phone with 911, trying to get an ambulance for Cunningham, and told the operator she was unconscious on the floor. 

Cunningham regained consciousness while Huemer was on the phone. 

He told the operator Cunningham hit him, then grabbed a knife. He could be heard on the recording saying, "She stabbed me!"

Justice Bast said she was concerned about the credibility and reliability of Cunningham's testimony. She said Cunningham's inability to remember anything after the stabbing was inconsistent with her clear and detailed recollection of the rest of the night. 

"Ms. Cunningham's degree of responsibility in this case is high," Bast said. 

Mark Huemer was stabbed to death in his home on Edmonton's west side. (Travis McEwan/CBC )

Cunningham was "not a battered spouse," the judge said, was not financially dependent on Huemer and "was not trapped in the relationship." 

Bast said Cunningham's fear of Huemer was not based on a history of abuse. 

There were several aggravating factors, including the defensive cuts on Huemer's hands, and the fact that he was killed in his own home.

Bast also outlined a few mitigating factors, including that Cunningham expressed remorse and has made significant strides in rehabilitation since her arrest. 

A lifetime of moments without a dad

Robson Mark Huemer wrote a victim impact statement.

"Not a day has passed that I don't visualize the horrible pain that my father was going through as he lay on the floor dying," Huemer wrote. 

He wrote that the loss caused him to drop out of school, and now he has depression, anxiety and nightmares. 

"I will never get to go fishing with my dad again and he will never see me happily married, meet my children, be a grandpa."

He said Cunningham will serve her time and then her sentence will end.

"I, however, have a lifetime of moments to come that I will not have the opportunity to share with my father."

Cunningham was not given credit for the time she spent on house arrest or in rehabilitation, but was given 35 days credit for the 23 days she spent in remand. 

She was also given a 10-year firearm prohibition and ordered to hand over a DNA sample.