Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cords, Hammer, Knives: Woman Tells Murder Trial How 'Sister Wife' Was Abused

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cords, Hammer, Knives: Woman Tells Murder Trial How 'Sister Wife' Was Abused

Article excerpt

Woman testifies murder suspect tortured 'sister wife'

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WINNIPEG - One of five women involved with a man accused of killing one of them testified that the death came after days of the victim being abused.

"He was beating her up with cords, a hammer, knives," Jessica Reid, 36, told jurors Thursday at Perez Cleveland's first-degree murder trial.

Cleveland, 46, has pleaded not guilty to killing 42-year-old Jennifer Barrett, whose body was found in a barrel behind their Winnipeg home in December 2016.

Court heard earlier this week that Cleveland shared the house with his adult daughter and five women whom Reid described as sister wives.

Barrett was kept in the basement of the home that summer, Reid testified, because Cleveland claimed she had been flirting with other men. After a couple days of physical abuse, Barrett left the home for a few hours. Things got worse when she returned, Reid said.

Reid testified she saw Barrett stumble out of the basement's laundry room and fall to the floor.

Cleveland used a Taser on Barrett's leg to try to get her moving, Reid said. The woman jolted but no other movement followed.

"I knew something was wrong. I freaked out," Reid said.

Cleveland moved Barrett's body into a plastic storage bin in the garage, Reid said. He told her and another woman in the house to deal with the problem. He then left to go stay at a hotel.

The stench was awful, Reid testified, and she and the other woman came up with a plan to put Barrett's body in a sealed barrel in the backyard.

Reid is charged with being an accessory after the fact, but her case has not yet gone to trial.

The defence suggested there was jealously between the sister wives and it was Reid who was violent towards Barrett.

Jurors have been told that some of the women had been in a romantic relationship with Cleveland for many years when Barrett moved in with them in 2012. …

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