Saskatoon

Defence: Frances Sugar was defending herself, jury deliberations begin today

The Crown and defence have presented closing arguments in the murder trial of Frances Sugar.

Sugar accused of stabbing daughter outside Saskatoon in 2014

A picture of accused killer Frances Sugar in an RCMP cellblock, three hours after her daughter Lindey Sugar was fatally stabbed. (RCMP)

The Crown and defence are done calling witnesses and presenting evidence at the Frances Sugar murder trial.

Her lawyer says she was acting in self-defence and fearing for her livelihood.

That's the reason Frances Sugar, 50, ended up killing her daughter Lindey Sugar, 34, in a remote area just south of Saskatoon in 2014. But the Crown argues the severity of the stab wounds and what Frances said to Lindey afterwards shows there was force well beyond reasonable self-defence.

Crown and defence lawyers spent Monday laying out closing arguments. Frances Sugar faces a second-degree murder charge in relation to Lindey's stabbing death however the defence argues she was only defending herself from her daughter.

Earlier in the trial the court heard how the two spent the day at a barbecue, drinking throughout the day, making multiple trips to the liquor store. Afterwards Lindey, her friend Dennis Kissling and Frances got into Lindey's car and began to drive southbound out of the city on a grid road.

In that car ride things between Lindey and her mother began to escalate, first with Lindey not being satisfied with the money she split with her mother from Ritalin sales outside a coffee shop earlier in the day.

Defence argues self-defence

Defence lawyer Kathy Hodgson-Smith described an aggressive, intimidating and threatening Lindey. What started out as a fight over money turned into Lindey blaming her traumatic childhood on her mother. Lindey threatened to drive Frances out of the city, beat her up and leave her on the side of the road so she could walk back, a disciplinary tactic used by Frances on Lindey during her childhood.

"She's taking her mother out of town and threatening to beat her," she said.

Hodgson-Smith said during the drive when Frances would ask to get out of the car, Lindey would slow down and then speed up. The court heard how Frances tried to plead with her daughter, apologizing for the tumultuous past and trying to calm the situation. At one point Frances turns to Kissling and asks for help. Kissling testified earlier in the trial he intended to stay out of the argument between mother and daughter.

"She's a fearful woman taken to the country by her daughter, blaming her for her childhood," the defence said.

Eventually mother and daughter were outside the car and an altercation ensued, ending with Frances on top of Lindey, with Lindey later succumbing to multiple stab wounds to her arm, neck and back. Kissling testified he heard Frances say 'you play with the big boys, you're going down like the big boys' to Lindey after the stabbing occurred.

The defence laid out reasons to justify Frances defending herself against her daughter. First, Hodgson-Smith argued Frances believed there was a threat of force being made against her. Lindey didn't allow her out of the car and she threatened to beat her up and leave her in the country.

Secondly, the defence argued the primary purpose of Frances' actions was defence. Her lawyer reminded the jury how Frances was apologetic and trying to defuse the situation, making no attempts to lash out at her daughter during the drive out to the country.

Lastly, the defence argued Frances used reasonable force in defending herself against her daughter.

She was scared to death, Hodgson-Smith said, reiterating what her client told police that night in 2014. She was afraid of her daughter because she was a big woman and Frances knew the argument would escalate. Hodgson-Smith said the evidence before the court clearly shows Frances was defending herself against her daughter who wanted to exact revenge on her mother for how she was treated as a child.

Crown argues intent to kill was there

Crown prosecutor Melodi Kujawa partially agreed with the defence in her closing arguments. She confirmed the defence's assessment that Lindey was the aggressor, but said her threats only extended to a beating, not a killing.

Kujawa pointed to Kissling's testimony noting how he saw Frances holding something silver, which turned out to be a pocket knife.

But she added Frances' self-defence ended and her intent to kill Lindey comes through. Kujawa asked where the knife had come from, arguing Frances had it with her all along.

Kujawa argued Frances meant to kill her daughter and evidence from the stab wounds shows Frances had intent to cause serious harm to Lindey. Kujawa described how an earlier witness who examined Lindey's injuries said the knife wounds were much deeper than the length of the blade.

Kujawa said that pointed to the knife being pushed into Lindey's neck and there's no evidence Lindey had a weapon or threatened to use a weapon.

"Frances intended to cause bodily harm and was indifferent if Lindey died or not," Kujawa said.

The Crown allowed Frances and Lindey were both intoxicated at the time, but argued Frances wasn't intoxicated enough to dismiss her intent to kill Lindey.

Court has been adjourned until 11 a.m. CST on Tuesday, where the judge will give instructions to the jury before they deliberate.

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