Lying on the stand by taking responsibility for a stabbing death her boyfriend committed was a deliberate decision by a Red Deer woman and not made under duress, a judge has ruled.
Janessa Desiree Eliuk, 26, was found guilty of perjury by Justice Sheila Martin on Wednesday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.
Eliuk’s defence was that her participation in the plan to claim responsibility for the murder was done under duress. Grant Shoemaker was stabbed to death in 2005 by Eliuk’s now-former boyfriend, Paul Lionel White.
However, Martin said Eliuk exaggerated the pressure she was placed under. The judge said the few vague instances that Eliuk presented as threats during her testimony do not qualify for a duress defence.
In her ruling, Martin said Eliuk willingly chose to participate in a plan that White made with his roommate and friend Kenny Deck. They presented the plan to Eliuk during one of her visits to the Red Deer Remand Centre, where White awaited trial for the murder.
White wrote down a version of events from the night of Shoemaker’s murder and the two men told Eliuk that she would testify that she did it. The intent was to cast reasonable doubt on White’s role during the murder trial, which originally ran from August 2007 to April 2008.
Pointing to provisions in the Canada Evidence Act, White and Deck reasoned that Eliuk could claim to have committed the murder that White was on trial for and be protected from prosecution as a result of her testimony.
Although she said her first reaction was to refuse to participate, Eliuk said Deck reminded her of his violent past and talked about his friends on the street. Martin said that statement was not a clear threat of death or bodily harm.
White threatened to have his family give police statements that Eliuk had committed the murder. Martin said this was not a threat of death or bodily harm but a threat of legal action that would be tested by the legal system.
Eliuk also testified about threats from the White family to take Eliuk’s son away if she did not take responsibility for Shoemaker’s murder. However, Martin said the family believed Eliuk had committed the murder and likely believed Eliuk would be doing the right thing by getting on the stand and taking responsibility for the crime.
Before she testified at White’s first murder trial in 2008, Eliuk was warned by both her father and the judge who presided over the trial, Justice Dennis Thomas, about the seriousness of perjury. Kevin Eliuk told his daughter that if she lied, White would go to jail regardless and she would face a perjury charge. Thomas warned her of the consequences of a perjury conviction, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.
During the perjury trial, transcripts of recorded conversations were presented. They show Eliuk calling herself a pathological liar and saying she could concoct a story that could make sense in any circumstance. This included a false sexual assault allegation she made to her ex-boyfriend, White.
Eliuk told White that Shoemaker forced her to give him oral sex. Testifying in her perjury trial, she called this a story with additions, admitting the oral sex was consensual.
Martin called this a troubled piece of testimony that calls into question her reliability.
White killed Shoemaker on June 8, 2005, stabbing him 34 times.
The 2007-2008 murder trial ended with White convicted of second-degree murder. White appealed and was granted a second trial, which ended in a mistrial. Before a third trial occurred, White pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2012 and was sentenced to 18 years jail. With pre-trial custody taken into account, he had about seven years left to serve after his plea.
Sentencing arguments for Eliuk have been adjourned until Aug. 24.
Defence counsel Tyson Dahlem said that Martin’s decision related to Eliuk’s testimony and its reliability affected his sentencing arguments. He said he needed to corroborate portions of her evidence that he intended to use during sentencing arguments.
Eliuk’s bail was not revoked and she will remain out of custody until her sentencing hearing.