Woman on trial for bloody 2016 murder says boyfriend admitted to the killing

A woman on trial in the 2016 death of David Sanderson says she heard her boyfriend admit to killing the man hours before the pair was arrested, but her boyfriend's lawyers suggest she did it and lied to police.

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details

David Sanderson, 50, died of his injuries from an assault at his Aberdeen Avenue home in June 2016. (Winnipeg Police Service)

A woman on trial in the 2016 death of David Sanderson says she heard her boyfriend admit to killing the man hours before the pair was arrested, but her boyfriend's lawyers suggest she did it and lied to police.

"I saw him talking to his friends about how he killed him," Lorie Knott, 23, testified Thursday in a Winnipeg courtroom, referring to her boyfriend Billy Joe Linklater. "He told me he got it [the knife] from the kitchen."

On cross-examination by Martin Glazer, one of Linklater's lawyers, Knott admitted she never told investigators about that alleged admission or knife during a 17-hour police interrogation days after Sanderson was killed.

She said she was trying to protect Linklater at the time. Glazer accused her of murdering Sanderson​ after he allegedly offered to pay her for sex.

Knott denied ever hurting Sanderson and said she was out of the room when he was injured. She said she didn't know he was dead until three days later.

Sanderson, 50, died due to blood loss after he was stabbed and slashed 33 times in the face, head, arms and legs on June 22, 2016, court heard. His body, burned on the arms and legs, was found in a chair in his Aberdeen Avenue suite after a neighbour called in reports of a house fire.

Linklater and Knott were arrested three days later and have remained in custody ever since.

Knott, represented by lawyers Mike Cook and David Walker, and Linklater have both pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Robert Dewar is presiding over the 12-member jury trial, which began on Nov. 26 and is expected to last four weeks.

'I love Billy Joe'

Court heard Knott was a quiet and shy teenager who grew up in a northern Manitoba First Nation before moving to Winnipeg less than two months before Sanderson's death in May 2016.

Both 21 at the time, she said she met Linklater and they were dating within a week or two.

"I love Billy Joe," Knott said through tears from the witness box. "I feel horrible sitting here."

By June, she was living with Linklater at his mother's home on Stella Avenue — the same home where police later recovered a sweater of hers stained in Sanderson's blood, court heard.

Knott said she used to be addicted to OxyContin and Linklater helped her get clean.

In the hours before the killing, though, she bought an OxyContin pill from her cousin and consumed part of it, court heard. She later smoked marijuana and drank at Linklater's.

Having just met at a convenience store, Sanderson, Linklater and Knott walked to the Northern Hotel vendor where they were videotaped together buying alcohol, court heard.

Blackouts

Knott said they drank and walked and she was so intoxicated she didn't know where they had ended up, although she remembers entering the rear suite of a building.

She said she regularly experiences periodic blackouts when drinking heavily and experienced them "on and off" that entire night.

Knott remembered taking her shoes off before drinking with the other two inside the suite. At one point she said she heard the tone change during a conversation between Linklater and Sanderson..

"All of a sudden they were in a hushed voice," she said. "I don't like any kind of conflict so it made me uncomfortable."

Knott said she stumbled down the hall to the bathroom. She exited a minute later and saw Sanderson was slumped over in a chair in the living room with a bloody face, Knott said.

"I remember walking up to him and then I hugged him," she said. "I was like, 'Oh my God, oh my God, I'm so sorry.'"

Video of Knott in underwear outside

Knott said she took off, leaving her shoes behind, with Linklater following her moments later.

Two video surveillance clips from about 2:30 a.m. on June 22, 2016, were played in court and showed the pair in the area of Andrews Street, just blocks away from Sanderson's Aberdeen Avenue home.

In one video, Knott was wearing a sweater, later recovered by police, that tested positive for Sanderson's blood. In the second video, she is seen stripped down to her bra and underwear.

She couldn't remember or explain why she was undressed, court heard, and Knott suggested blood on the sweater came from when she hugged Sanderson. 

Emergency crews later put out a fire at Sanderson's home and found him dead.

'I didn't do it'

Glazer said there were inconsistencies in Knott's police statement and suggested at one point she killed Sanderson.

He suggested Knott blacked out and stabbed Sanderson because he wanted to pay her for sex.

"You lost your temper, right, after he tried to grab you, you stabbed him," Glazer said to Knott. "You were afraid he was going to rape you, is that right?"

"Billy said he wanted to buy me for sex," Knott said while weeping, though adding she never heard Sanderson directly make such a proposition.

She said she would've remembered stabbing someone.

"That was the scariest thing that ever happened," she said. "I'm not a violent person."

Knott denied she lost her temper or was ever grabbed or afraid of Sanderson.

Glazer alleged she was wearing her shoes when she stabbed Sanderson, and that she left them in the home because they were covered in blood.

Forensic tests later showed the blood to be from Sanderson, although Knott claimed she wasn't wearing them inside and doesn't know how they got bloody.

"I didn't do it," she said.

The trial resumes Friday.

About the Author

Bryce Hoye

Reporter

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology. Before joining CBC Manitoba, he worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service monitoring birds in Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Alberta. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.