VANCOUVER - A woman who repeatedly slashed her husband two years ago has been acquitted of aggravated assault and attempted murder because she was a battered wife, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled.
In his ruling posted online Friday, Justice Elliott Myers said Crown prosecutors failed to prove Ayelech Ejigu wasn't motivated by self-defence when she attacked her husband in the basement bedroom of their Fort St. John home June 2, 2010.
He said evidence suggested Ejigu, who is an immigrant from Ethiopia, felt alone and isolated, had nobody to talk to or confide in, and her husband, Yadeta Kareba, had beaten her in the past and had threatened to kill her just days before the stabbing.
Myers said when Kareba yelled at his wife before the attack, she may have thought he meant to "kill, attack or sexually assault her, and that she had to defend herself by killing him."
"It is my view that under her circumstances that view was reasonable," he said.
"I therefore conclude that the Crown has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that self-defence is not applicable to all of the counts, and that Ms. Ejigu should be acquitted."
According to court documents, Kareba was treated in hospital for two slashes on the right-temporal side of his head, wounds that did not penetrate his skull.
He also suffered a superficial laceration on his left side, and a wound on his left upper leg that could have been fatal if it had hit an artery, state the documents.
They also state he suffered a laceration to the right side of his chest, a wound that did not need "active treatment."
A knife blade and handle, found in separate locations and recovered by police, matched a barbecue utensil set located in the couple's kitchen.
Central to Ejigu's defence was the issue of battered-spouse syndrome.
In his ruling, Myers said those affected by the syndrome develop fear and apprehension about their personal safety because of repeated physical and emotional abuse.
Myers said a source of tension in the relationship was a suspected affair Kareba was having with the female owner of the house in which they were living, an issue the couple argued about the night before the attack.
He said another source of tension was the fact Ejigu was unable to find a job and earn an income after coming to Canada.
During the trial, Kareba denied he ever hit Ejigu, asked her to do any non-consensual sexual acts or had an affair, although he testified Ejigu thought he was having an affair, which created tension in their relationship.
Kareba was born in Ethiopia in 1963, Ejigu was born in Ethiopia in 1970, and the couple was married in 1998.
In 2003, Kareba immigrated to Canada and worked as a driller in the oil and gas industry before Ejigu and his two children joined him in Fort St. John in October 2007.
After his family joined him in Canada, Kareba quit his job as a driller and began working as a cleaner, a job his wife assisted with.