'Internet Black Widow' Melissa Ann Shepard agrees to sign new peace bond
Shepard will return to court on Oct. 31 to sign peace bond
An 80-year-old woman known as the "Internet Black Widow," who gained notoriety for killing and poisoning her intimate partners, has agreed to sign a two-year peace bond at the end of the month.
Melissa Ann Shepard appeared briefly during a hearing in provincial court in Dartmouth, N.S., Tuesday morning.
The hearing was related to her challenge of 22 conditions imposed on her when she was released from prison in March after serving a full sentence of just under three years for spiking newlywed husband Fred Weeks's coffee with tranquilizers in 2012 at a bed and breakfast in Cape Breton. He and Shepard had only been married a few days before he fell ill.
High risk to reoffend
Under the conditions, Shepard was required to report to police any potential relationship with a man, keep authorities aware of where she is living and inform police of changes to her appearance.
The conditions also included restrictions on her use of the internet.
"None of those are subject to any amendments," Crown attorney James Giacomantonio said outside court, noting that the two-year arrangement is the maximum allowed under the law.
"It's the most we could ask for, and we're going to get every day of it," he said.
However, he said there could be changes made to a requirement that Shepard report to police once a week. He said defence lawyer Mark Knox has promised to send him medical documents and other information related to the case.
'We'll iron out the conditions'
"She doesn't want to drive down to the police station and drive back every week," the prosecutor said. "We'll iron out the conditions. But we expect them to be almost exactly the conditions she's been on since her release in March."
In August, she pleaded not guilty to violating previous imposed court conditions by allegedly using a computer at the Halifax Central Library. She was charged in April and her trial has been scheduled for Feb. 1. She is facing three counts of breaching a recognizance, including a ban on accessing the internet.
The lawyers agreed to return to court on Oct. 31, when Knox told the court his client will sign a two-year peace bond with many of the same conditions.
Shepard is considered a high risk to reoffend by both the police and the Parole Board of Canada. The Crown applied under the Criminal Code to impose special conditions on her freedom.
"The reason why we put someone like Ms. Shepard on a peace bond is because we are concerned that she can't manage her behaviour with her own free will," Giacomantonio said outside court. "We have to put certain conditions on her to protect the public and keep her in line."
Convictions dating back to 1991
Shepard has a long history with the law.
In 1991, she was convicted of manslaughter and served two years of a six-year prison term after killing her husband Gordon Stewart on a deserted road near Halifax.
Stewart, from P.E.I., was heavily drugged when she ran over him twice with a car.
Shortly after she was released from prison, she travelled to Florida and met Robert Friedrich at a Christian retreat.
They married in Nova Scotia in 2000. A year later, Friedrich's family noticed his health was faltering. He had mysterious fainting spells and slurred speech and was in and out of hospitals.
Friedrich's family also alleged his money had started to disappear.
Friedrich died in 2002 of cardiac arrest. No one was charged.
In 2005, Shepard was sentenced to five years in prison for a slew of charges stemming from a relationship she had with another Florida man she met online.
She pleaded guilty to seven charges, including three counts of grand theft from a person 65 years or older, two counts of forgery and two counts of using a forged document.
With files from CBC News