Leanne Friesen’s estranged husband “did not want to let her go,” her sister testified in court on Monday.
“He threatened her … ‘If I ever see you with another man, I’m going to kill you’ and ‘If I can’t have you, nobody can,’ ” Carrie Brock said she was told by Leanne sometime in 2012 after she had separated from her husband, Jeff.
Brock was the first witness to take the stand in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on the opening day of the trial for Jeff Friesen, 44, who is charged with the second-degree murder of Leanne, 40.
Her body was found by police on the evening of Feb. 6, 2013 in the garage of her Cassiar Court home in Abbotsford, and investigators quickly confirmed that she had been shot.
In opening statements earlier in the day, Crown lawyer Scott Quendack spoke of how family and friends of Leanne’s had become concerned when they hadn’t heard from her and she wasn’t returning their calls starting on the evening of Feb. 4, 2013.
Brock affirmed those concerns in her testimony, saying she had returned from work on the afternoon of Feb. 6, when she received a call from Leanne’s twin sister, Tammie.
Tammie was in a panic and wanted to know if Brock had heard from Leanne. Brock also called Leanne and, when she got no answer, had her daughter contact Leanne’s daughter over FaceTime (an online video-chat application).
Leanne’s daughter indicated that she had not heard from her mom for a couple of days. Brock said that, in the background of the call, she could see Jeffrey “pacing back and forth.”
“My gut intuition was, you need to get to Abbotsford. So when my husband came home, I told him everything, and I said, ‘I need to go get my niece and nephew. Something’s going on.’ ”
They arrived at Leanne’s home to see it surrounded by police and, shortly after, a handcuffed Jeff being escorted out the door by officers and placed in the back of a patrol car.
“That’s when the officer came to me to tell me, ‘I’m sorry but we found your sister in the garage,’ and that’s when I lost it,” Brock said tearfully.
She and her husband then went to the Abbotsford Police Department to pick up Leanne’s kids, and share with them the tragic news of their mother’s death.
“The hardest part was telling your niece and nephew that their mother was gone,” Brock said, breaking up.
The two kids have been living with her ever since, she said.
In Quendack’s opening statement, he said the couple had married in the year 2000, but separated in the fall of 2012. Leanne and their son and daughter – now ages 14 and 16 – remained in the home.
Quendack said the Crown will present evidence over the course of the trial, which is expected to take five weeks, that will show Leanne had been unhappy in her marriage but that Friesen did not want the marriage to end.
Quendack said neighbours will testify that they heard “loud bangs” in the early morning of Feb. 5 coming from the Friesen home, but they did not report the sounds to police.
He said Leanne came from a close family who stayed in constant contact and, when they couldn’t reach her after a couple of days, her brother called police on the evening of Feb. 6 to report their concerns.
Officers arrived at the residence to find Jeff and the two kids in the home, and soon discovered Leanne’s body in the garage. Jeff was arrested at the scene.
Quendack said the Crown’s evidence will show that police found a shell casing in a closet in the home and a gun inside Jeff’s vehicle, which was parked in the driveway.
He said the Crown’s witnesses will include a firearms expert, who will testify that the spent shell casing had been discharged from the gun found in Jeff’s vehicle.
“It’s the Crown’s theory that Leanne Friesen was shot to death by Jeffrey Friesen, her estranged husband, and it’s the Crown’s theory that he did so because he was unable or unwilling to accept her desire to end their marriage,” Quendack said.
The defence will present its case once all the Crown witnesses have testified.