A Muskoday woman accused of murder said she thought she was swinging a knife sharpener – not a kitchen knife – at her boyfriend on the night of his death.
Robyn Laura Ermine, 30, took the stand this morning at her trial. She is accused of murdering her fiancée Evan Tylan Bear, 27, in 2015. In a brief opening statement Ermine’s lawyer Adam Masiowski reminded the jury to pay specific attention to what was going through Ermine’s mind at the time, to consider if her thinking was reasonable, and to decide whether she used reasonable force given the circumstances.
Ermine and Bear argued on and off throughout the day of his death, Ermine testified, and said things first became physical after the couple spent the night drinking heavily at their Muskoday home along with Ermine’s step-sister. Ermine said she could not remember exactly she and Bear were fighting about, but eventually she decided Bear should go spend the night at his mother’s house nearby and threw his shoes out the side door.
“Evan was mad. He pushed me,” she said. “That’s when he grabbed my neck.”
Ermine said she reached back and grabbed something from the counter behind her while she was being choked by Bear. Thinking she had grabbed the knife-sharpening rod, she said she swung it at Bear’s face. Although Ermine said she wanted to hurt Bear by swinging the object, she said she did not expect to do him serious injury.
“I couldn’t see what I was grabbing… I wanted him to get off me,” Ermine said tearfully. “I didn’t think that I would puncture him.”
Despite being mortally wounded, Ermine said Bear threw her down and banged her head against the kitchen floor several times before she stopped fighting back and he let her up. Ermine said she held a towel to Bear’s bleeding neck, retrieved his shoes and called an ambulance before mopping a portion of the bloody floor. Ermine said she does not remember why she started cleaning, and attributed her actions to “shock.”
Ermine said Bear had a history of violent behaviour throughout their relationship, and described him throwing her down on the side of a highway after she grabbed the car keys to prevent him from driving drunk. Bear knelt on her stomach while she was seven weeks pregnant, Ermine said, leading her to miscarry two days later. She also described a punch from Bear which left her with a black eye and torn retina after she tried to break up a fight between him and another man.
On cross-examination Crown prosecutor Jeff Lubyk questioned Ermine’s claim that she did not know what she grabbed. He said the sharpener had a unique handle and would have weighed significantly more than a knife, and argued Ermine used it in a stabbing or slashing motion rather than a downward clubbing motion.
“You knew you had grabbed the knife and you made a stabbing motion,” Lubyk said. “You didn’t use it as you would a stick or bat.”
Ermine’s mopping was questioned by Lubyk, who noted she stopped performing first aid in order to clean and asked if she was trying to make the scene of the crime look better. Ermine once again said she did not know what made her reach for the mop.
Lubyk also raised Ermine’s past history of violent crime which includes multiple convictions for assault, and noted she had several relatives living nearby who would have given her a place to go to avoid the fight entirely.
Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. The jury is expected to receive final instructions and begin its deliberations Wednesday.
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Editor's Note: Commenting on this story is closed as the case is before the courts.
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