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Ethiopian woman found not guilty of attempted murder after stabbing husband

[Bayush Hagos allegedly killed by Ayelech Ejigu]

By Keith Fraser, The Province
A Fort St. John woman who repeatedly stabbed her husband after suffering from battered-wife syndrome was Thursday found not guilty of attempted murder.

Ayelech Ejigu, 42, who faces a separate charge that she murdered a community worker in Burnaby, was also acquitted of the aggravated assault and use of a weapon in the assault of her husband, Yadeta Kareba.

In reasons for judgment, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elliott Myers concluded that Ejigu was acting in self-defence during the incident involving Kareba at the family home in June 2010.

Ejigu, a mother of two who came to Canada from Ethiopia in 2007, testified that her husband, Yadeta Kareba, 49, beat her frequently while they were living in Africa.

She said he used a stick and his hand but most often used a shoe and that while it was customary for women to beaten by their husbands in Ethiopia, Kareba should not have done so because he was educated.

The beatings often happened in front of the children, court heard.

When the couple came to Canada they began to fight and tensions were caused in part by Kareba having an affair with a woman who owned the house they lived in.

Kareba beat her numerous times when the children had gone to school and insisted on her doing sexual acts portrayed in pornographic magazines. She said he struck her with his hand, kicked her and beat her with a broom.

Three days before the stabbing incident, he drove her out to the woods outside Fort St. John, took out a folding knife, said her mind was messed up and that he would kill her and kill himself, she said.

Ejigu said he told her that he could stab her and leave her for the bears to eat and she begged him to spare her.

The stabbing incident was preceded by a fight in which Ejigu claimed Kareba was trying to choke her.

She said that he called her inside from the front lawn, while she was cutting some grass for their pet rabbit.

The judge concluded that Kareba, who was stabbed in the head and the side and a puncture wound in the leg which had the potential to be fatal had it hit an artery, had been injured by a knife and that Ejigu inflicted the wounds.

He said the issue was not whether the label of battered spouse could be applied but rather what she did and why.

"Under all of the circumstances, when Mr. Kareba called out to Ms. Ejigu when she was on the front lawn, Ms. Ejigu could have concluded that he meant to kill, attack or sexually assault her, and that she had to defend herself by killing him," the judge said in a 20-page ruling. "It is my view that under her circumstances that view was reasonable."

In his ruling, the judge noted that the trial had had a protracted and difficult history.

The trial began in Fort St. John but could not be completed and was scheduled to resume in Vancouver in September 2011.

However, a few days before the trial could resume, Ejigu was arrested and charged with the second-degree murder of Bayush Hagos, a family support counsellor.

Ejigu was not able to continue with the attempted murder trial in part because of her mental state, the judge noted.

A fitness hearing for her was held and she was deemed fit to stand trial and the trial was eventually concluded.

A preliminary hearing in Vancouver Provincial Court to deal with the murder charge is scheduled for Ejigu in January.


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