Final arguments at Winnipeg trial of accused in death of woman found in barrel

Perez Cleveland is seen in this undated police handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Winnipeg Police Service

WINNIPEG — A Crown prosecutor says a man accused of killing a woman whose body was found in a barrel in their backyard used manipulation and fear to control multiple women who lived in the home.

“Mr. Cleveland had a great deal of power over the women in that house and he abused that power,” Breta Passler said Tuesday during closing arguments in the jury trial of Perez Cleveland.

Cleveland, 46, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 2016 death of 42-year-old Jennifer Barrett.

Court has heard that Cleveland shared a house in Winnipeg with his adult daughter and five women, who were described by one of them as “sister wives.”

Passler said the women all had unique vulnerabilities and had eerily similar stories about how Cleveland was initially charming before he turned abusive and controlling.

Four testified that they experienced extreme physical abuse, surveillance and manipulation during their relationships with Cleveland.

Passler added that even though police uncovered a relationship document between Barrett and Cleveland, in which she described herself as his submissive, the woman began to fear for her life.

Cleveland became convinced Barrett was cheating, so he tortured her for days before she was killed, the prosecutor said. “(He was) physically and psychologically confining Jennifer Barrett.”

Barrett passed out after the prolonged violence, Passler said, so Cleveland threw water on her and shot her with a Taser. But the woman didn’t respond.

Cleveland put her body in a plastic container in the garage, the prosecutor said, and directed two of the women to dispose of it.

“Mr. Cleveland controlled every aspect of that home that he called his kingdom.”

The defence has argued that one of the other women was jealous of Cleveland and Barrett’s relationship and acted violently towards Barrett.

Passler said there was no evidence the women were violent. Officers did find weapons in the home and Barrett’s blood on a wall in the basement.

Court also heard that because of the body’s decomposition, there was no way to know what caused Barrett’s death. She did have several broken bones.

Passler said the death was not an accident.

“He simply did not care whether she died or not while he assaulted her,” she said of Cleveland.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Who is at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19? Firefighters, drivers, pharmacists, cooks

Central Alberta firefighter says virus taking toll on mental health

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Federal share is approaching $750 million annually, up from $618 million in 2012-13

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

N.S. fire crews continue battling ‘out-of-control’ Porters Lake blaze

Word of the fire first emerged early Saturday afternoon

Technology, representation butt heads amid debate over resuming Parliament

The Liberals are now proposing four meetings a week until June 17

Procession for Snowbirds crash victim makes its way through Halifax

The 35-year-old military public affairs officer and Halifax native died in the crash

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada as of May 23

There are 83,621 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada

Procession for Snowbirds crash victim to make its way through Halifax today

The military public affairs officer died in the Snowbirds Tutor jet crash in B.C. last Sunday

Employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

Only eight per cent of employers were fully prepared to restart operations, survey finds

Liberals table proposal for expanded Commons COVID-19 meetings, summer sittings

OTTAWA — The Liberals have tabled a proposal that would see expanded… Continue reading

Most Read