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Failure of marriage made father kill, trial told

Allan Schoenborn murdered his three children - pausing to smoke a cigarette after stabbing his 10-year-old daughter as she slept - because he knew his estranged wife was finished with him, a Crown counsel told the accused murderer yesterday.

Glenn Kelt levelled the accusation at Mr. Schoenborn in a combative day of cross examination in which the Crown ridiculed the former roofer's suggestions that he stabbed, smothered and strangled the children at their mother's Merritt home in April, 2008, because he feared they were being sexually abused and he wanted to save them from humiliation.

"You knew your family life as you had known it - that is the five of you - was over," Mr. Kelt told Mr. Schoenborn, who was in the witness box on his second straight day of testimony yesterday.

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"Bullshit," Mr. Schoenborn loudly told Mr. Kelt.

"Pardon me?"

"Bullshit," Mr. Schoenborn said again. Mr. Justice Robert Powers, who is hearing the case without a jury, did not intervene.

Mr. Schoenborn said his relationship with Darcie Clarke, his partner of 15 years, was "real" despite difficulties they could probably have fixed given time and space from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, which he said was making decisions for them.

After the killings, Mr. Schoenborn said he fled into the woods, hoping to die and join the children. He was arrested there 10 days later on April 16.

The Crown opened its case earlier this month by suggesting Mr. Schoenborn killed the children in an act of revenge against his spouse, a point Mr. Kelt repeated yesterday, stating: "You decided if you can't have the children - Allan Wayne Schoenborn - then Darcie Clarke could not either."

Mr. Schoenborn has repeatedly spoken of his admiration for his wife, but Mr. Kelt noted that he posed the children after killing them, leaving them for Ms. Clarke to find when she came home on the morning of April 6. "It was a cruel trick for the poor mother," he said. "That's not right," Mr. Schoenborn said.

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The defence is asking Judge Powers to find Mr. Schoenborn not criminally responsible for the crimes because of a mental disorder. Mr. Schoenborn yesterday disclosed that he has been diagnosed as schizophrenic. The trial has also been told he was diagnosed with paranoia.

Among other things, Mr. Kelt wondered why Mr. Schoenborn told no one else - including the children's mother, his family, police or school officials - about his abuse suspicions, prompted by concerns his daughter was being "groomed" for a life in prostitution and strange smells in the hair of his eldest son.

Mr. Schoenborn said he did not have faith in anyone else to help him. "I couldn't let it happen any more," he said, even though there has been no evidence of abuse during the trial except for his assertions. "There's no one I could trust."

He said he thought his wife was being monitored by "drug lords."

But the former Vancouver-area roofer admitted he knew he was breaking the law when he stabbed, smothered and strangled 10-year-old Kaitlynne, eight-year-old Max and five-year-old Cordon.

That concession came when Mr. Kelt pressed Mr. Schoenborn over his claim that, after the killings, Kaitlynne forgave him in a vision. Mr. Kelt asked Mr. Schoenborn why he needed forgiveness if he had done nothing wrong.

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"Because the law says not to take a life," Mr. Schoenborn said quietly.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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