Jessica Keefe not guilty of murder
Mongrel Mob stabbing accused gets off
A Lower Hutt woman has been found not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of her Mongrel Mob member partner.
A jury of seven women and five men delivered their verdict in the High Court at Wellington at just after 5pm in the case of mother of four, Jessica Lee Keefe, 30.
She cried in to her hands after the jury delivered its unamimous verdict of not guilty of murder and a majority verdict of not guilty of manslaughter.
She had pleaded not guilty.of murdering Mr Verma, 30, at Petone on January 29.
Keefe did not give evidence in court but she told police that she could not remember how the knife went into the centre of Mr Verma's chest. She said he had been hitting her. Neighbours who could see see into the flat through its tall windows, said they saw Keefe fighting back. She was described as swinging something at him and later it was discovered a 60-inch television screen in the flat was cracked in two places.
She picked up the knife so he would leave her alone. Instead he said "Just... do it". Keefe said what happened next was a blank. She could not remember if she stabbed him or he lunged at her. She did not think she hurt him.
But the Crown said she had put the knife back in the drawer and dropped another similar knife in the carpark outside, then pretended she did not know what happened.
During a trial that began last week a jury of seven women and five men heard that Keefe and Mr Verma had a history of fights, especially after drinking.
Keefe called police to five incidents and hospital staff reported another as a suspected assault when Keefe and Mr Verma turned up seeking treatment for her on-going headaches. She told police she had tripped over furniture during an argument with her sister and a television had fallen on her head, but to hospital staff she said the argument had been with Mr Verma.
From another of the incidents Mr Verma pleaded guilty to assaulting Keefe and he was convicted and discharged. She said she got a knife to keep him away after he punched her but he said he punched her because she had held a knife to him.
The couple were not supposed to be living together while he was serving a sentence of home detention.
Keefe and the children were supposed to be living two doors away with Mr Verma's parents.
A probation officer said that shortly before Mr Verma died he volunteered to start a domestic violence counselling course.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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