Alberta woman appeals 18-year sentence for killing abusive husband


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An Alberta woman sentenced to 18 years behind bars for killing her abusive husband is appealing her punishment.

On Thursday, 56-year-old Helen Doris Naslund filed a notice asking the Alberta Court of Appeal to review her sentence.

Naslund pleaded guilty last October for shooting her husband Miles Naslund while he slept in their Holden, Alta. farmhouse. She later sunk the body in a pond with help from her son Neil, who was sentenced to three years.

A lengthy agreed statement of facts detailed the years of abuse Naslund suffered at the hands of her husband. He threw wrenches at her in the lead up to the killing, threatened her, and hurled the family dinner to the floor, saying it was not fit for a dog.

The appeal argues Justice Sterling Sanderman failed to consider the history of domestic abuse Naslund suffered in agreeing to the sentence. It also argues the sentence “brings the administration of justice into disrepute.”

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The appeal took particular issue with Sanderman’s characterization of the case as a “callous, cowardly act on a vulnerable victim in his own home.”

Naslund’s sentence generated considerable controversy. An online petition calling for an appeal garnered more than 10,000 supporters. Alberta Sen. Paula Simons (a former Edmonton Journal columnist), spoke about the case in parliament. Elizabeth Sheehy, a University of Ottawa professor emerita of law, told Postmedia Naslund’s was one of the longest sentences in a “battered woman” case in Canadian history.

Reached by text Thursday, Wesley Naslund, Naslund’s eldest son, said the appeal was a “good move,” adding “the courts system has been very unfair with her.”

The 18-year sentence was part of a joint submission by Crown lawyer Dallas Sopko and defence lawyer Darin Sprake.

Representing Naslund in the appeal is senior Edmonton lawyer Mona Duckett.