Battered woman on trial for killing long-time abuser
Cape Dorset woman testifies she didn’t want her lover to die
Davidee Adla drew his final breath after Jeannie Manning stabbed the father of six three times in the back with a kitchen knife at House 800 in Iqaluit on Sept. 1, 2001, according to witnesses in Manning’s second-degree murder trial.
The trial began Nov. 25 and was under way when Nunatsiaq News went to press on Nov. 27.
Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra, Manitoba’s chief medical examiner, said one blow pierced Adla’s aorta — the main artery carrying blood to the heart. Two litres, or about half of the 44-year-old man’s total blood volume, gushed into Adla’s left lung instead of circulating through his body.
“He bled to death,” Balachandra told the court.
Manning, 44, admits to stabbing her on-again, off-again boyfriend. She said, though, the fatal blow happened after 11 years of violent abuse and was done in self-defence.
“I didn’t want him to die. I wanted to drive him away, to scare him so he couldn’t make life difficult for me or my daughter,” Manning said, sobbing loudly and triggering an outpouring of wailing in the courtroom. “I was going to defend myself with [the knife].”
Manning’s family members kept to one side of the courtroom. Adla’s family and Kumaarjuk Pii, his former wife, occupied the other side. Both families either live in, or are from, Cape Dorset.
When it all began
The couple’s affair started in 1990, when Manning, then 32, and Adla, then 33, worked as weather observers at the Cape Dorset airport.
At the time, Adla was married with five children.
Manning, a single mother with a young son, trusted Adla and confided in him about past incidents of abuse and sexual assault against her — including one assault two years earlier that produced a “rape-baby” who was adopted out, Manning said.
“He knew I liked to sing and he’d bring a guitar and harmonica to work,” Manning said of their earlier, happier days together.
During their 11-year relationship, the couple had one daughter, now seven and in foster care. Although they never married, Adla divided his time between Manning’s house and his house, where his wife resided.
Adla and Manning’s relationship was never harmonious, the court heard. By the time Adla died, he had been convicted about a half-a dozen times of assault and assault causing bodily harm arising from beatings he inflicted on her.
Those beatings started on Christmas Eve 1990, Manning said, adding that over time, the assaults grew more vicious.
In March 1991, Manning tried to leave a house after an assault but her eyes were so swollen she could not find the way. Before finding the door, Adla smashed an end table across her back, knocking her to the floor.
On another occasion, Adla rammed her face into a door handle but Manning told police she tripped and fell.
“I loved him, I didn’t want him to go to jail,” Manning said when asked by defence lawyer Susan Cooper about why she didn’t always press charges and why she didn’t leave him.
During the trial, Manning pointed to numerous facial scars from the repeated assaults.
Two themes kept surfacing in the couple’s fights: Adla’s jealousy and his failure to support their young daughter, Manning said.
Even after Manning moved to Iqaluit in 1998 to study and later work as an interpreter-translator, Adla followed.
“He was back and forth between Cape Dorset and Iqaluit,” she testified. “He had a roof over his head, but didn’t care about us.”
Indeed, hours before Adla’s death, Manning was expressing frustration at Adla’s lack of financial support.
At 2 a.m. on Sept. 1, 2001, an hour before Manning stabbed Adla, a Royal Canadian Legion employee saw Manning push Adla down a set of stairs.
“They were arguing. [Adla] wasn’t saying anything and she pushed him down [the three outside stairs],” said Trent Nadeau, a former Legion employee now living in Ottawa.
“He got up, reached for the back of his head and walked off. Someone asked [Manning] why she did it and she said, ‘He has money to go to the bar but doesn’t have money to help with his daughter,’” Nadeau said.
An hour later, Anna Joanasie awoke to Manning’s call for help. Manning and her young daughter, then homeless, were living with Joanasie and her two pre-teen children.
“Jeannie said, ‘Help me. David is beating me up,’” Joanasie testified.
Joanasie then walked into the living room and found the couple fighting on the floor.
“David was punching and hitting her in the head…. I didn’t want my kids to see it.”
Joanasie left the house to call the police. She returned minutes later to find Adla’s lifeless body lying on the floor and Manning overwhelmed with emotion.
“Jeannie said she’d stabbed him with a knife. She told David not to die. She was shaking him and giving him mouth-to-mouth,” Joanasie testified.
Nine of the 10 witnesses had given evidence by Nov. 27, including Adla’s former wife Kumaarjuk Pii.
Pii divorced Adla in 1999, but testified the two were considering remarrying at the time of his death.
Pii said Adla hit her several times, but only one incident, in 1997, led to charges.
Manning was undergoing cross-examination by Crown lawyer Steve White at press time.
She re-elected to be tried by judge alone after initially requesting a jury trial.
Manning was arrested on Sept. 1, 2001, after Adla was pronounced dead at Baffin Regional Hospital. She spent seven months in remand custody, most of it at the Fort Smith Correctional Centre, but was released after a bail hearing in March. She has worked part-time as an interpreter-translator while awaiting her trail.
Justice Paul Chrumka of Alberta is presiding in the case.