Ex-family lawyer gets five years for 2017 death of boyfriend
Feb. 05, 2020
A former family lawyer will be spending the next couple of years behind bars after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the 2017 death of her on-and-off-again boyfriend.
The courtroom was packed Wednesday afternoon as family and friends attended the sentencing of Laurie Cunningham. The 62-year-old was originally charged with the second-degree murder of Mark Huemer, 59, but on Monday, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Cunningham remained silent as Justice Monica Bast handed down a five-year sentence. Bast awarded a 35-day credit for the 23 days Cunningham was in remand as well as ordering a DNA sample and imposing a firearms ban.
The sentencing was in the middle of what the defence and Crown were after, which was three years and six years respectfully.
“The offence of manslaughter is a serious offence,” Bast said in her decision. “This was a senseless crime.”
On Nov. 7, 2017, Cunningham went over to Huemer’s home after eating a light meal and drinking three glasses of wine, the court heard. It was this evening Huemer proposed to Cunningham, however, the night didn’t go as planned.
An agreed statement of facts states Huemer attempted to get Cunningham an ambulance by calling 911 after she became unconscious on the kitchen floor. The court heard Cunningham had mixed alcohol with sleeping pills.
While he was on the phone, Cunningham fatally stabbed Huemer with a chef’s knife in the abdomen. He died from blood loss.
“It’s clear from the 911 call that Mr. Huemer’s hands were occupied when he was stabbed,” Bast noted.
Cunningham testified that she experienced multiple accounts of domestic violence while being with Huemer but Bast said while she believes violence may have happened, she didn’t see enough evidence to suggest it was happening over a long period of time.
Bast said Cunningham wasn’t financially vulnerable because she had a job, wasn’t trapped because she had her own place and had the support of family.
Bast said she also found her testimony conflicting since Cunningham couldn’t recall anything after the stabbing but could remember details prior to. She also noted Cunningham grabbed a large chef’s knife to stab Huemer.
Bast did acknowledge Cunningham had shown remorse by entering a guilty plea as well as going to a treatment centre to deal with her alcoholism.
The grandmother of four was taken back into custody after hugging family and friends. Cunningham had been a family lawyer in Alberta since 2003 and battled cancer in 2016. Prior to the stabbing, Cunningham was facing an impaired driving charge that was scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 21, 2017. The charges were withdrawn after she pleaded guilty to a Traffic Safety Act offence.
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