Manitoba

'I lied to everyone about Christine': Overby admits to killing Wood during trial testimony

Brett Overby has testified Christine Wood came at him with a knife in the basement of his Burrows Avenue home in August 2016. Asked whether he had lied to police, his family and his ex-girlfriend about Wood's death, he replied "yes."

Overby tells jury he did not intend to hurt or kill Wood in 2016

Brett Overby testified Monday at his second-degree murder trial of Christine Wood. (Instagram)

The man on trial for second-degree murder in the death of Christine Wood admitted to killing her Monday morning in a Winnipeg courtroom, but says he didn't mean to do it.

Brett Overby, 32, was charged in April 2017 and Wood's body was found in a farmer's field outside the city in June, 10 months after she disappeared.

The trial began last week. 

Overby told his lawyer he was "really nervous" before sharing his version of what happened after he met the 21-year-old on August 19, 2016.

One of the first questions his lawyer, Sarah Inness, asked him Monday morning was: "Are you responsible for killing Christine Wood?"

Overby responded with a single word: "Yes."

"I lied to everybody about Christine," he testified. "I didn't want anyone to know."

Overby also admitted on Monday to wrapping Wood's body in plastic before burying her in a farmer's field in the Rural Municipality of Springfield, and to cleaning up her blood in his basement, trying to hide the evidence by using bleach.

"Honestly I kind of blacked out. All of a sudden I was on the other side of the basement on the stairs," he testified during defence arguments at the Court of Queen's Bench.

"When I turned around, Christine was face down in a puddle of blood by the weight bench."

Overby and Wood met online

Wood was last seen by her parents on August 19, 2016 at the Days Inn on Berry Street. Her family searched for her for months after her disappearance.

Overby became a person of interest in January 2017 after police tracked the last two messages she sent to his Burrows Avenue IP address.

Court heard they met on the online dating site Plenty of Fish.

Brett Overby testified he did not remember taking this photo with Christine Wood. (Court exhibit)

Overby testified for over two hours and told the jury of nine men and three women he picked Wood up from a hotel by the airport and they decided to get "fishbowls," a drink served at Boston Pizza.

From there, he said, they returned to his Burrows Avenue home where he had beer and rum.

He told the court they continued to drink, had sex, and attempted to buy cocaine.

She came towards me. I thought she was going to punch me in the face again.- Brett Overby in testimony at his murder trial

Overby said Wood got mad, got up to leave, but instead went into the kitchen asking him to do a shot of rum.

"Out of nowhere she started punching me in the face," he told the court. "She said, 'I just wanted to see what you would do.'"

Overby said they had sex again, despite feeling frustrated with the "level of weirdness."

"[She] ripped the condom off and started having sex with me without it," he said. "Honestly I kind of felt like she kind of raped me."

The jury previously saw evidence of blood in Overby's basement, which tested positive as a match to Wood.

He testified they ended up in the basement: "because she told me she was crazy, I thought she might want to see a skeleton of a mouse."

Overby said Wood was sitting on his weight bench when she took off her shorts and asked to have sex again.

He said when he told her he didn't have a condom she lunged at him.

"She came towards me. I thought she was going to punch me in the face again," he testified. "I managed to put my hand up, and I felt something sharp against my neck."

He said he didn't know she had a knife and told the court it was one of his pocket knives he kept in the coffee table in the living room.

"For the first time in my life I felt like my life was in danger, I just snapped," he said about not remembering anything after that.

Police Sgt. Brian Neumann testified that swab samples taken from the weight bench in Overby's home came back positive as Christine Wood's blood. (Court exhibit)

In her opening statement to the jury, Inness reiterated that it is the Crown's job to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"While he caused Ms Wood's death, he didn't mean to," Inness told the court.

Crown prosecutor Chantal Boutin cross-examined Overby for just over an hour.

"Sir, I am going to suggest this to you: What started all of this nightmare was you were trying to get drugs," said Boutin. "Christine wanted drugs and you wanted a hook-up."

Boutin argued Overby killed Wood because she refused to have sex with him after he couldn't provide her with drugs, which he denied.

She also asked again whether Overby had lied to police, his family, and his ex-girlfriend about Wood.

When he said yes, she replied: "I am going to suggest you're [lying] again in front of all these 12 people," while motioning to the jury.

History of violence

Justice Chris Martin allowed Wood's youth criminal record to be admitted as evidence in Overby's trial.

She was convicted of assaulting a police officer in Thompson when she was a teenager.

Wood had slurred speech and smelled like alcohol when she punched the officer in the face, breaking her glasses, according to an agreed statement of facts read in court by Overby's lawyer.

Inness worked to establish a pattern of violence by calling two men who dated Wood in the summer of 2016.

Both met Wood through the online dating site Plenty of Fish, as did Overby.

Cody Kelly said they would drink and do drugs together. Inness asked him if they did meth, to which he responded only Wood smoked meth.

"When we were drinking too much she would get aggressive and start hitting me," he said.

Kelly told the court Wood hit him on four or five occasions during their brief relationship. He said she never used a weapon.

Christine Wood took a selfie using her mother's phone on the last day her family saw her, Aug. 19, 2016. (Melinda Wood)

David Allard told the court he dated Wood from July 30 until she went missing.

He said she was shy at first, but started laughing and opening up the longer they were together.

Allard told the jury they hung out everyday and did not have any drinks together until the fourth date.

"She swung, I wouldn't say a punch, but a blind throw, and hit me in the eye," he said.

He asked her to leave, but said he let her back in a few hours later when she came back crying and apologizing.

He said she stayed the night and he went to work, letting her sleep in.

"My whole place was completely clean, she made me brownies," he said about when he got back from work.

Allard testified he found a meth pipe in a bag she left at his place and knew what it was because he was a former drug user.

He said she attacked him a second time, hitting him with a plastic steering wheel used for playing video games.

"As soon as I saw blood I wanted to get her out of my apartment, I dialled 911," he said.

He described her as "tiny" and, at the direction of the 911 operator, physically removed her from his building.

Allard told the court he met with her parents after she went missing and helped them search.

Both the Crown and defence are done presenting evidence and will make closing arguments Tuesday morning. The jury could begin deliberations as soon as Wednesday.

About the Author

Jillian Taylor

CBC Reporter

Jillian Taylor has been with CBC Manitoba since 2012 and has been reporting for a decade. She was born and raised in Manitoba and is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation. In 2014, she was awarded the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's travel bursary, which took her to Australia to work with Indigenous journalists. Find her on Twitter: @JillianLTaylor