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As trial closes, defence says abuse led Nanaimo woman to kill ex with hammer

Crown and defence presented closing arguments this week in B.C. Supreme Court
Summations began Thursday, April 18, in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver for the trial of a Nanaimo woman who is charged with murder and interfering with a dead body. (News Bulletin file photo)

Warning: Contains graphic details of a murder and may not be suitable for all readers.

The fate of a Nanaimo woman accused of murdering and cutting up her ex-boyfriend and disposing of the body is in the hands of a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

Paris Jayanne Laroche, 28, was arrested in March 2022 after an investigation into Sidney Joseph Mantee’s disappearance. Nick Barber and Sabrina Avery, co-Crown counsel, and Glen Orris and Robyn Young, defence, presented closing arguments to justice Robin Baird on Thursday and Friday, April 18-19, in Vancouver.

The Crown contends Laroche was abused by Mantee and she killed him by striking his head with a hammer while he slept and slashing his throat with a knife. Laroche subsequently dismembered the victim’s body and kept the parts in her refrigerator, disposing of them around Nanaimo over a span of six months. Barber said the accused treated the victim’s body like a deer.

Police officers, posing as relatives of a person Mantee abused, were able to elicit a confession from Laroche in an undercover operation.

The defence didn’t deny Laroche killed Mantee, but argued that their client’s actions were spurred when Mantee abused her cat. Pets can be of comfort to abused partners, and when Mantee allegedly choked Laroche’s cat, it was the last straw, said Orris. The accused didn’t commit a culpable homicide, but rather manslaughter as a result of self-defence, Orris continued.

Mantee is said to have choked Laroche till she was unconscious and Orris said she wore long sleeves to conceal bruises.

Orris cited testimony from Amy Fitzgerald, a professor and undergraduate chairperson of the department of sociology and criminology at the University of Windsor, who testified that Laroche could have developed battered spouse syndrome. Although he didn’t have a criminal record, Mantee told Laroche he had gang affiliations and had killed people, adding to Laroche’s fear, the defence said.

Barber said the fact Laroche continued living in the apartment with Mantee’s remains in the fridge while continuing to live her life without any signs of post-traumatic stress disorder is concerning.

Stating there was no indication of planning based on what she did after the fact is wrong, said Barber. He pointed to the fact Laroche got a bucket to assist with draining the body, adding that the body disposal followed a well-contrived process. It included waiting till the body stiffened after death and moving it to the bathtub.

The dismemberment wasn’t done in a frenzy, said Barber, and was fairly mechanical. Evidence in battered spouse syndrome cases with self-defence involves situations with an immediate threat, he said, but in Laroche’s situation, there was no threat that day and it was unclear what exactly happened to the cat.

Barber asked the judge to be cautious when considering the professor’s evidence, maintaining that the testimony did not relate to the Nanaimo case.

The trial was held in Vancouver because suitable facilities to house Laroche could not be found in Nanaimo.

Baird said he would need some time to go over the evidence and would take as much time as needed. A date for judgment is expected to be established on June 26, although Baird left the possibility open that he could have his decision by that date.

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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