An Alberta woman granted a second trial by the Supreme Court of Canada has been sentenced to prison for killing her ex-husband six years ago.
Deborah Doonanco, previously found guilty by a St. Paul, Alta., jury of second-degree murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Monday in the shooting death of Kevin Feland on May 25, 2014.
Feland's body was found at Doonanco's home in Glendon, 210 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
On Monday, Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench Justice Peter Michalyshyn sentenced Doonanco to eight years in prison but with four years credit for time served. A joint submission by the Crown and defence recommended the sentence.
The former elementary school teacher deferred to her lawyer when she was invited to address the court.
According to an agreed statement of facts presented to Michalyshyn, Feland was a serial abuser who physically and emotionally abused Doonanco.
The document also states Doonanco suffered from Battered Woman Syndrome. She had PTSD, depression and anxiety at the time of the killing.
Doonanco, now 57, was initially convicted of second-degree murder, arson and interfering with human remains in 2016.
During Doonanco's first trial, she took the stand in her own defence, admitting that she shot Feland twice in the chest, then set fire to her house.
But she insisted that she was trying to save her own life from an abusive spouse; that it was "kill or be killed."
Feland had been out of work for two months and was heavily addicted to crack cocaine at the time of his death.
"I lost everything I worked for," Doonanco sobbed on the witness stand in 2016. "I lost my freedom. I lost my sanity. My security. My home that I worked every day for every piece of furniture in here. And he turned it into a crack home. I had nothing. Nothing. It disgusted me. And I was terrified to fight back for my own home."
Doonanco was barricaded in her bedroom when she heard a gunshot shortly after midnight.
Feland had used her hunting rifle to shoot the floor in her living room.
"Ms. Doonanco believed that he would kill her and then himself," the court document states.
'Kevin did nothing to deserve what was done to him'
Feland's death rocked the 500 people who live in the village of Glendon, north of St. Paul. Doonanco's father Johnnie Doonanco had been the village mayor for nearly four decades until he stepped down in 2010.
"I hope this community heals," defence lawyer Brian Beresh said outside the courthouse Monday. "I can't imagine in a small community that his conduct was not known. And I can't imagine that people who loved and cared for him wouldn't have suggested he get some help."
Feland was 44 when he was killed. His parents passed away from illness after his death. Feland's brother and sister wrote victim impact statements.
"Kevin did nothing to deserve what was done to him," brother Carl Feland wrote. "Most haven't experienced after the devastating loss of a loved one having that loved one portrayed as a monster for all to hear."
He called the accusations against his deceased brother "unfounded."
"Kevin worked for everything he had," Feland's sister Lisa Lundgren wrote. "He sacrificed a lot and then he got burned like a piece of garbage. I live in fear, sadness, anger, hatred and disbelief."
Feland's former wife, Lacey Truss, said Doonanco had no right to take someone's life.
"So many lives Debbie has destroyed because of this selfish, evil act," Truss wrote.
Doonanco has no previous criminal record. Beresh entered 10 character reference letters on her behalf.
"She has tremendous community support. It's quite amazing," Beresh said. "It's my hope … that she'll receive day parole as soon as possible. Then of course be paroled and released back into the community."