Eritrea

Winnipeg man found not criminally responsible for fatally stabbing wife

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A Winnipeg man diagnosed with schizophrenia has been found not criminally responsible in the stabbing death of his wife.

Teklu Mebrahtu, 37, stood trial earlier this year, charged with second-degree murder in the January 2012 killing of 34-year-old Alche Fsehaye Kidane.

“The assessment of whether Mr. Mebrahtu is criminally responsible for killing his wife turns on whether his delusions led him to believe that what he did was morally justified,” Justice Shawn Greenberg wrote in a decision released Wednesday morning.

“I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that they did. I conclude that he is not criminally responsible for the death of his wife.”

In order for a “not criminally responsible” designation, it must be proven the person did not have the capacity to appreciate their actions at the time of the offence.

Those found not criminally responsible go before review boards — independent tribunals which can order that the person remain detained in a hospital, released on a conditional discharge or ordered to be released on an absolute discharge.

  • FIRSTHAND: What does ‘not criminally responsible’ mean?

Mebrahtu will appear before the Manitoba Review Board for sentencing at a later date.

Court heard Mebrahtu called 911 after stabbing his wife several times in the bathtub of their Winnipeg apartment.

He and his wife had arrived in Canada from Eritrea just five months earlier.

Court heard testimony Mebrahtu believed his wife was trying to poison him and had been having an affair. Mebrahtu told police he had called 911 on two prior occasion to report the poisoning attempts.

Greenberg said the case was complicated by the fact that Mebrahtu spoke little English and translations of what he told police varied from interpreter to interpreter.

Mebrahtu was being held in a hospital psychiatric ward at the time of a June 2013 preliminary hearing, yet his lawyer at the time raised no issue as to his fitness to proceed, Greenberg said.

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