A man accused of murdering his partner two years ago testified in his own defence Wednesday, suggesting that his actions were a reaction to her plans to kill him and that he feels guilty.
Calvin Andrew Lewis, 50, is charged with first-degree murder in the May 2, 2020, stabbing death of Tina Tingley-McAleer in Hillsborough, south of Moncton.
"I just lost it, I freaked out, I know I stabbed her. I don't remember how many times," Lewis said Wednesday as the trial continued in Moncton.
Lewis admits killing the 43-year-old. He does not admit intending to kill her, which is a key component of the charge. First-degree murder is a homicide that is planned and deliberate.
The Crown rejected an attempt by Lewis to plead guilty to manslaughter at the start of the trial.
Lewis first defence witness to testify
The Crown closed its case on Friday after calling 10 witnesses. The fourth day of the trial by judge alone began Wednesday with the defence calling Lewis to testify.
Lewis, under questioning by his defence lawyer Nathan Gorham, testified he was in a relationship with Tingley-McAleer for about two years prior to her death and they often argued.
He said she seemed to want others to kill him and that people he had known before dating her would act differently around him once they were together.
"She threatened me, she told me she was going to dump me off the pier in Shediac," Lewis said.
He said he joked with her that no one was following through on her plans to have him killed, calling her a "hitman for the Muppets." He said he always kept it in his mind that she wanted to hurt him.
On the day she died, he said he awoke to find a needle in the bedroom of their Hillsborough home with some kind of substance in it. He said neither of them used intravenous drugs.
He said he broke the needle, flushed it down a toilet and then confronted her.
"I was [expletive] mad, I kept asking her what the hell is going on, what are you doing with it? What are you doing with it? What are you doing with it?
"I said, 'Are you going to kill me?' She said, 'It don't matter, you're not going to make it to the end of the day anyway.'"
Lewis said he grabbed Tingley-McAleer's phone from her, she reached for something on the coffee table and then he stabbed her, saying he "lost it."
He said he didn't plan the stabbing.
Asked by Gorham how he feels about it now, Lewis said, "I lost the girl I love, right? I don't know. I don't really feel too good about it."
He said several other words that couldn't be heard.
"I feel guilty," he then said, turning to look at Tingley-McAleer's family and friends in the courtroom gallery. "I feel bad for her kids, her family and her friends."
Crown prosecutor Malika Levesque cross-examined Lewis, asking him about his call to 911 in which he says he meant to kill Tingley-McAleer. He acknowledged that's what can be heard on the call.
"I was out of sorts," he said.
Levesque went through a series of questions about how Lewis had pleaded guilty to assaulting Tingley-McAleer and was on parole at the time of the killing.
Lewis testified Tingley-McAleer could call up police or his probation officer and have him taken away again.
Levesque asked whether he took her phone because she was going to call someone.
He responded he took it because she was getting ready to call someone, then stabbed her.
"Thirty two times," Levesque said.
Lewis said he wasn't sure how many times, saying he doesn't remember.
An autopsy found Tingley-McAleer had 32 stab and cut wounds, including to her heart and lungs.
Regular drug use
Earlier in the day, Gorham asked Lewis about his drug use and its effects on his behaviour.
Lewis testified he used marijuana, Percocet and methamphetamine daily, sometimes 10 to 15 times per day. He testified Tingley-McAleer was also using methamphetamine.
He testified that the drugs often meant he wasn't sleeping, sometimes staying awake for several days. He also said he'd be "quick to argue." He said there were times he would be hallucinating and hearing noises.
Lewis's testimony concluded shortly after 2 p.m.
Gorham told the judge he expects to call psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Holly as an expert witness on Thursday. Holly has been observing Lewis testify Wednesday.
The trial has heard that there were regular arguments, and that Lewis had a history of threatening to kill Tingley-McAleer with a knife.
Crown prosecutors played two police interviews with Lewis recorded following his arrest.
In the first, a crying Lewis repeatedly says he loved Tingley-McAleer but suggests she was planning to leave him and had also planned to kill him using a needle.
An agreed statement of facts entered as the first exhibit in the case says the knife that appears to be bloody found in the van Lewis was driving had DNA matching Tingley-McAleer.