Kelowna woman who stabbed sleeping husband to death sentenced to 14 years

Husband killer gets 14 years

UPDATE 2:45 p.m.

Despite admitting to stabbing her sleeping husband to death, Billie-Jo Bennett says she loved her husband and did not wake up on the morning of his death meaning to kill him.

Bennett, who was sentenced to a 14-year jail sentence in Kelowna on Monday, will be credited with the equivalent of two years and 2.5 months that she has already served in custody.

She will not be eligible for parole for another four years and nine and half months after Judge Alison Beames imposed an enhanced parole ineligibility period agreed to by both the Crown and defence attorneys. The ruling means Bennett cannot apply for parole until half her sentence is complete.

Bennett has been in custody since her arrest.

On the day of the killing, she phoned 911 to report she stabbed her husband, who was a slight 31 kilograms at the time. She subsequently admitted to police she killed her husband.

In sentencing Bennett, 56, Beames said it was a "true tragedy" that Jim Bennett's life was taken from him by the actions of his wife.

It was agreed in the joint statement of fact presented to the court by the prosecution and defence that Billie-Jo Bennett killed her husband with a single stab wound to the back as he lay sleeping in their bed in their home on Bechard Road in Kelowna on Oct. 18, 2021 because she did not want to tell him about the financial troubles they were in.

Bennett did not give a reason for the killing when she addressed the court.

She simply said she loved her husband with all her heart, she didn't plan to kill him that morning — despite the agreed statement of fact saying she thought about killing him the day before she stabbed him — and she has "so much regret."

She said neither her family nor her late husband's family want anything to do with her now and she wants all involved to be able to get on with their lives.

In his victim impact statement, Jim Bennet's brother Paul said the sudden loss of his brother seemed "surreal" to him and he has struggled to accept it.

"I feel angry I have been denied a relationship with him," he told the court. "I feel immense sorrow and loneliness...My whole world changed in an instant."

Paul Bennett, who lives in Alberta, said he planned to move with his family back to B.C. when he retired so he could have a closer relationship with his brother.

"I never got to say goodbye," he said.

He added he is left with one question, why?

Both Crown Council Ann Katrine Saettler and defence lawyer Iain Currie said the sentence they agreed to and recommended to the judge, and which was subsequently imposed by Beames, was at the high end of the general scale of sentences for manslaughter in Canada.

Both said that was because the killing was "near murder."

Billie-Jo Bennett, who said she has struggled to understand her actions on the day of the killing, was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded not guilty to that charge, instead pleading guilty to manslaughter.

UPDATE 2 p.m.

A Kelowna woman has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for manslaughter in the death of her husband.

The 55-year-old Kelowna woman entered the plea Monday, on what was supposed to be the resumption of her second-degree murder trial, and was sentenced shortly afterwards.

With credit for time already served, Bennett has 11 years and nine months left on her prison sentence.

More to come…

ORIGINAL 10:45 a.m.

A Kelowna woman intends to plead guilty to manslaughter in the 2021 death of her husband.

The second degree murder trial of Billie-Jo Bennett was scheduled to resume Monday morning at the Kelowna courthouse. Instead, her lawyer said his client instructed him that she wished to enter a guilty plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The case will resume Monday afternoon, when the Crown and defence are expected to enter an agreed statement of facts and joint sentencing submission.

Bennett, 55, was arrested on Oct. 18, 2021 after police responded to a suspicious death at 661 Bechard Road. They found the body of her husband James Wesley Bennett in the home.

The woman was released from custody without charge shortly after. She was arrested again seven weeks later, when she was charged with second degree murder.

At the time of the killing, Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance expressed her frustration and concerns that Bennett wasn't immediately charged.

“I find that concerning, absolutely, because there are no conditions imposed on this individual. And yet I understand that my partners at the BC Prosecution Service are acting within the directives of their policies,” Supt. Triance said in October 2021.

“As police officers, this is a very frustrating situation to be in, as we look at the two systems that we must operate between, and increasingly deal with people at large in our society who have complex and concurrent mental health or criminal matters that are affecting the way that we can keep our community safe.”

Bennett has remained in custody, and did not apply for bail while awaiting trial.

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