Advocate file photo

Red Deer woman testifies boyfriend hanged her with a dog leash

Steven Hewitt on trial for attempted murder for May 2020 attack

Warning: The following story contains graphic details.

A Red Deer woman testified in court on Tuesday that her boyfriend beat her, dragged her into the basement and tried to hang her from a beam with a dog leash.

Zara Morrison testified in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench that on the morning of May 17, 2020 her boyfriend, Steven Matthew Hewitt, angrily accused her of seeing someone else and attacked her in the bedroom of the rented Red Deer home they shared shortly after she woke up.

Hewitt is on trial for attempted murder, uttering death threats and mischief.

Morrison testified that Hewitt punched her in the face, put a dog leash on her and dragged her into the kitchen, where he banged her head on the fridge and choked her unconscious.

When she revived, she testified that, “I remember gasping for air and him looking down on me and saying, ‘We’re not done yet.’”

Morrison said that, with the dog leash still around her neck, she was hauled down into the basement. The five-foot-two, 97-pound woman was hung from a beam and the six-foot-five, 240-pound Hewitt continued to punch and kick her, screaming at her that she was not going to live.

“I’m begging, ‘Please stop, please stop, please stop.’”

Morrison said Hewitt took a cellphone photo of her in the basement after she was attacked. It was presented as an exhibit in court.

She testified she made her escape after playing dead and when Hewitt left the basement she ran up the stairs and out of the house near 36 St. and 51 Ave. A passerby saw the injured woman running down the street in only a bra and panties and took her to hospital.

Crown prosecutor Bruce Ritter had Morrison go through more than 80 photos of her injuries taken at the hospital and later by RCMP. She was covered in bruises, including her face, back, arms, hips and stomach. Her neck was also bruised from the leash.

“It probably took four or five months for all the bruising to actually go away,” she testified.

Morrison was given the leash allegedly used in the attack and asked to identify it.

“That’s the leash he hung me with. And I don’t want it near me,” she said, before a court clerk took it away.

Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Krysia Przepiorka asked Morrison about past suicide attempts.

Morrison admitted she had made previous suicide attempts, including trying to hang herself with a dog leash from a closet clothes rod.

Przepiorka suggested to Morrison that on May 17 she made another suicide attempt by hanging herself in the basement while crouched on a pair of plastic paint pails. When Hewitt came down and saw what was happening he tackled her and landed on top of her and the pails, Przepiorka suggested.

Morrison firmly denied each detail of that scenario.

Przepiorka questioned Morrison closely about her testimony and inconsistencies or emissions from her police statement and testimony at a preliminary hearing last October.

At one point, Morrison felt like she was being “re-victimized” as she tried to recall the day of her attack, but insisted she was telling “1oo per cent the truth.”

Under cross-examination, Morrison admitted that on previous occasions she had lied to get Hewitt in trouble, saying he had broken household furnishings when the damage was actually caused by her.

Morrison got increasingly emotional as she was questioned about the basement beating. “He would kick me and I would go swinging. I was a punching bag.

“He had crazy eyes. I should have died that day,” she testified.

As the trial began, Hewitt pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to comply with court conditions by contacting Morrison and coming within 100 metres of her home. Two other breach charges are expected to be dropped.

The four-day trial before Justice David Labrenz continues on Wednesday.



News tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Cowboy Kicks, originally scheduled for May 5, will now take place Sept. 18. (Contributed photo)
Westerner Park’s Cowboy Kicks fundraiser moved to Sept. 18

A major fundraiser for Westerner Park and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Downtown Red Deer patio restaurants have been busy this summer. Contributed photo
City of Red Deer expediting patio application process for restaurants

The City of Red Deer is allowing businesses to install patios prior… Continue reading

RDC Queens forward Camryn Wallan was named the 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Wallan, Podgorenko named 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Athletes of the Year

Even with the cancellation of the 2020-21 Alberta Colleges Athletic Association, RDC… Continue reading

A new Angus Reid poll says that close to two-thirds of Albertans think premier Jason Kenney is doing a bad job handling the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
75% of Albertans disapprove of Kenney’s pandemic leadership: poll

Nearly 75 per cent of Albertans believe Premier Jason Kenney is doing… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Here masking tape was applied to both sides of a joint to be caulked. Peeling the tape off as soon as the caulking is smeared with a finger leaves behind a neat edge. (Photo by Robert Maxwell)
Houseworks: Unheated spaces can cause tools to rust

Q: How well do woodworking tools survive in an unheated Canadian workshop?… Continue reading

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is seen in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. The University of Victoria and the head coach of its women's rowing team have denied allegations of demeaning and aggressive treatment outlined in a lawsuit filed last summer by a former student and team member. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Canada's Julia Grosso, right, and Wales' Natasha Harding battle for the ball during the women's international friendly soccer match at Leckwith Stadium, Wales, Friday, April 9, 2021. Canada blanked Wales 3-0 but lost captain Christine Sinclair to an injury in the fist half of a soccer friendly Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-PA, Nick Potts
Canada blanks Wales in soccer friendly but has injury scare with Christine Sinclair

Canada blanks Wales in soccer friendly but has injury scare with Christine Sinclair

Canada's DTH Van Der Merwe, left, is tackled by Hong Kong's Toby Fenn, during the 2019 Japan Rugby Union World Cup qualifying match between Canada and Hong Kong, in Marseille, southern France, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Claude Paris
Canadian rugby star DTH van der Merwe enjoying life in Los Angeles

Canadian rugby star DTH van der Merwe enjoying life in Los Angeles

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher, right, makes a shot as second Brad Thiessen sweeps against Germany at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Justin Rose, of England, hits out of a bunker on the seventh hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament on Friday, April 9, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

People shop for essential items at Costco as pallets block off aisles and sections that have been deemed non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, April 8, 2021. Retailers in Ontario are adjusting to new lockdown restrictions with stores like grocers, discount and big box chains roping off non-essential items from underwear to calculators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Ontario retailers adjust to new rules, non-essential goods off-limits to shoppers

Ontario retailers adjust to new rules, non-essential goods off-limits to shoppers

A worker smooths concrete at a construction site in Toronto on January 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls, Statistics Canada says

Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls, Statistics Canada says

Most Read