Final arguments made in Fort Liard murder trial

·4 min read
The door to the house where Danny Klondike and Selena Lomen were living in Fort Liard. (Court documents - image credit)
The door to the house where Danny Klondike and Selena Lomen were living in Fort Liard. (Court documents - image credit)

Warning: this report contains mentions of intimate partner violence and graphic details.

In the early morning hours following a 2018 Halloween party in Fort Liard, N.W.T., a woman fatally stabbed her partner in the chest with a kitchen knife.

Selena Lomen, 23, is standing trial for the second-degree murder of Danny Klondike, 34. She has already admitted to manslaughter in the case.

Lomen appeared virtually in N.W.T. Supreme Court Wednesday to hear final arguments. The Crown prosecutor and her defence lawyer debated the circumstances of Klondike's death, disagreeing about why she stabbed him.

In the moments following Klondike's death, Lomen admitted to RCMP and to Klondike's family that she had stabbed him. In a statement to RCMP, she remembered that Klondike had been stabbed, but had difficulty remembering what happened before and after.

Lawyers debated whether these lapses in memory were due to the traumatic nature of the stabbing or the effects of alcohol.

Lomen's defence lawyer Peter Harte maintains that she should be charged with manslaughter, arguing that evidence suggests she was pursued by Klondike as she tried to leave the house, which resulted in her stabbing him with a kitchen knife.

Crown prosecutor Duane Praught said Harte's version of events was "pure speculation," arguing instead, that Lomen grew angry at Klondike, and intended to stab him knowing that the wound would kill him.

Evidence suggests she wielded the knife with a reverse grip, demonstrating intent, Praught said.

The only injury she self-identified was a cut on her hand, likely from the way she was holding the knife, Praught said.

Lomen and Klondike's relationship 'rocky at best'

Lomen and Klondike's relationship was described as turbulent in court.

"It was rocky at best.... Lomen in particular, was unhappy," Praught said.

Witnesses say the two often fought over Klondike's drinking, and that in the weeks leading up to Klondike's death, Lomen stayed not only at the home she shared with Klondike, but with relatives in Fort Liard and in Fort Nelson, B.C.

Witnesses said this was because their relationship was fraught with arguments.

'I really don't know what I'm going to do with this case,' says judge

In Harte's closing arguments, he said that Lomen was fearful of what would happen when she returned home to a drunk partner. Witnesses said that Klondike was physically and mentally abusive when he drank.

Harte told the court that Klondike had a history of trying to control Lomen. Before the night Lomen stabbed Danny Klondike, he put her clothes in bags and stored them in his sister's truck so that Lomen could not leave town.

One of Lomen's brothers also confirmed in court that she was forced to quit her gas station job because Klondike accused her of flirting with other men.

Harte also said that Klondike had choked Lomen before and had previously threatened her with physical violence.

Earlier that night, Lomen asked a friend to stay with her. Harte argued that this meant she felt she was at risk.

As a result of this history, Harte said he believed Lomen grabbed the knife to keep Klondike at bay.

Praught disagreed, saying that the defence took "a couple events from the past to create a story."

Danny Klondike, centre, holding a cowboy hat, at a Halloween party the night he died.
Danny Klondike, centre, holding a cowboy hat, at a Halloween party the night he died. (Court documents)

The crown and defence debated how intoxicated Lomen was when the stabbing happened, and if she drank enough to be unable to form the intent to kill.

Second degree murder is a deliberate killing that occurs without planning and does not fall under any of the categories of first degree murder. Intent must be proven in order to be convicted of second degree murder.

The court heard a distraught recording of Lomen made in the first minutes after she surrendered herself to the RCMP.

She wept uncontrollably in the recording. She said "Oh please, god, no, no, no," and repeatedly asked to remove the sweater which had Klondike's blood on it. "You can just put me in jail," she said.

She denied access to a lawyer, saying she didn't deserve one.

In the recording, she followed the officer's commands, which Praught said was evidence that she was not too intoxicated to understand the consequence of her actions.

He also referred to witness testimonies with contrasting views on how much she had to drink that night, but generally suggested she had not consumed too much alcohol.

In his closing argument, Peter Harte said Lomen was likely in shock, with adrenaline affecting her level of consciousness. He added that alcohol affects people differently, and the fact that she appeared responsive, did not rule out the possibility that she was intoxicated.

Praught was skeptical that Lomen was unable to recall events from that evening due to an alcohol-related blackout. Instead, he suggested that some details from that night were likely too traumatic to remember.

Praught said that although Lomen was remorseful and felt guilt and sorrow after the incident, she intended to kill Klondike when she struck him.

Justice Andrew Mahar, who is presiding over the trial said "I really don't know what I'm going to do with this case."

He will submit his final decision on April 23.