The stepfather of a Sechelt man charged with murdering his mother testified Thursday that before the slaying, the accused and his mom had frequent confrontations with one another.
David Lachance told a B.C. Supreme Court judge in Vancouver that his stepson, Donovan Michael Penner, and his mother, Esma Lachance — Lachance’s wife — had a “love-hate” relationship.
“It just seemed to be wanting to get underneath one another’s skin all the time,” said Lachance. “I couldn’t handle that.”
Lachance said the arguments between his stepson and his 67-year-old mom were constant, could be about anything and sometimes involved violence.
“He’d push her around every once in a while. She’d be screaming at him.”
Under questioning from Crown counsel Marion West, Lachance said his wife had mental health issues, had been referred to as being bipolar and had been seeing a psychiatrist, as had the accused.
He said the accused, who has pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder, drank too much and would then start yelling at people.
“He’s not the most passive guy in the world. He’d anger up pretty quick.”
Court heard that the accused resided part time at the trailer where Lachance and the murder victim lived.
On the night of the October 2014 slaying, Lachance said that he had gone to bed. Penner, he said, was in Vancouver but was expected home at some point.
When he woke up to go to the bathroom, the hearing-impaired man discovered that his wife was not sleeping in their bed and went to investigate.
When he passed the room where Penner usually slept, he saw that a bed and mattress had been turned on its side, he told Justice David Crossin.
When he went inside the room, he saw that the mattress was moving, he said.
“So I pulled the mattress back so I could see what was making it move. I saw Donovan there. He was in like a fetal position. His mother was there, face down, with her arms off to the side.”
Asked by West whether he made any other observations, he said: “There was blood all over the place.”
The Crown’s theory is that Penner used a 10-pound dumbbell to beat the victim to death.
Lachance said that both Penner and his mother were naked.
“He just looked and gave me that, ‘I’ve done something really bad,’ look,” he said. “I yelled at him and said, ‘What did you do now? I knew you were going to do something like this.’ ”
Lachance said he had to push Penner out of the way to get to the victim, with Penner jumping up and running out of the room.
He said he called 911 and was told to turn the victim over and try to administer CPR but when he flipped her over, he saw that she had suffered significant brain injuries. He said he didn’t think CPR would do any good.
The trial is expected to continue Friday.