Murder victim feared for her safety

Karen Wells
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Sentencing hearing underway for man who shot his stepmother

A Lewisporte woman shot to death by her stepson in 2008 left behind a letter saying she was afraid of him and that he had threatened to "put a bullet in her brain."

Supreme Court in Gander heard details of their relationship Thursday during the sentencing hearing for 23-year-old Jonathan Whiteway.

Jonathan Whiteway is led away by a sherriff's officer. Photo by Karen Wells/The Pilot

Gander - A Lewisporte woman shot to death by her stepson in 2008 left behind a letter saying she was afraid of him and that he had threatened to "put a bullet in her brain."

Supreme Court in Gander heard details of their relationship Thursday during the sentencing hearing for 23-year-old Jonathan Whiteway.

He's pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in the March 19, 2008 shooting death of Diane Whiteway.

Crown prosecutor Tina Walsh presented an agreed statement of facts to the court and noted Jonathan has had mental health issues since he was 16, and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Until the time of the shooting at the family home, he had been taking bi-weekly injections to treat his condition.

The Crown presented the four-page letter Diane Whiteway had written, which was found among her personal papers.

The court also heard that Diane sought medical attention six months before she died after Jonathan pushed her and she bumped her head.

She didn't take further action because she was afraid of him, and wrote the letter to document that fear.

At one point, she and her husband, Roger, had discussed the possibility of Diane and her 12-year-old son getting an apartment on their own, but that didn't happen.

Eight months later, Diane was shot to death as her younger son slept in his bedroom 20 feet away.

In a taped interview with the RCMP from July 2, 2008, Jonathan discussed his history with his stepmother and the events of the day she died.

He said that morning he had gone to a friend's house and found his ex-girlfriend in bed with the friend.

The Crown noted, however, that it later turned out Jonathan was mistaken, and the woman at the house was not his ex-girlfriend.

When Jonathan got home, he found his stepmother sitting on the couch. He got a .410 shotgun, loaded it and shot her in her right temple from a distance of what he figured was around 10 feet.

He told police he didn't aim anywhere in particular, though the Crown noted he has been described as an "avid hunter and excellent shot."

He said his stepmother didn't move or say anything, but just fell back onto the couch.

Afterwards, he turned the gun on himself, injuring his chin and jaw, then went to get help for his own injuries from neighbours on Poplar Street.

Diane was found slumped on the couch with a cup of tea between her legs.

A neighbour said she seemed to be breathing and still had a pulse when the ambulance arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the Lewisporte Medical Clinic.

When asked why he'd shot his stepmother, Jonathan said he didn't know why, other than that she nagged him.

"She was getting under my skin - getting on my nerves," he said in the taped interview.

After a psychiatric evaluation, he was deemed criminally responsible and fit to stand trial.

Jonathan Whiteway will return to court on Sept. 8-9 where 11 victim impact statements will be read to the court by Diane Whiteway's family members.

The Pilot

 

Organizations: Supreme Court, RCMP, Lewisporte Medical Clinic

Geographic location: Gander, Lewisporte, Poplar Street

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