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Winnipeg man who stabbed wife to death in 1994 to remain on day parole for 6 more months

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

A man who stabbed his estranged wife to death in front of horrified bystanders on a busy Winnipeg street in 1994 has been granted another six months of day parole with conditions, a Parole Board of Canada decision says.

Bruce Stewner, 58, was previously granted six months of day parole beginning in January. The latest decision, from July 17, denied him full parole, which the decision said will be reviewed “at a hearing to be scheduled in the near future.”

“The plan for the next six-month period is to remain at your current [community residential facility] from which you will continue to work and prepare for a full parole application,” the decision said.

“A release plan for full parole has not been developed. Both you and the [case management team] consider full parole as premature.”

Stewner is serving a life sentence for the gruesome murder of his estranged wife, 23-year-old Kelly Lynn Stewner, whom he stabbed 20 times after she ran from their car on Portage Avenue in front of Assiniboine Park on May 6, 1994.

People stand behind a young woman as she smiles and holds a cake with the words 'Happy 21st Birthday Kelly' on it.
A photo from Kelly Lynn’s 21st birthday. She was 23, a month away from turning 24, when Bruce Stewner murdered her in front of dozens of witnesses. (CBC)

As he attacked her, Stewner told his wife she deserved it. At the time of the murder, he was violating a restraining order. He began serving his sentence for second-degree murder in February 1995.

Stewner has been assessed as having a moderate to high risk of reoffending, the parole board decision says.

Parole conditions

Under the conditions of his day parole, Stewner is not allowed to have any contact with any member of Kelly Lynn’s family.

He is also not allowed to have contact with another former partner with whom he had a “dysfunctional relationship,” nor is he allowed to travel to or through the areas of Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission, Surrey or 100 Mile House in British Columbia without prior written permission from his parole supervisor — a condition the board determined is “reasonable and necessary to protect the victim,” according to the decision.

Stewner is also required to immediately report all intimate sexual and non-sexual relationships and friendships with women and any change in the status of those relationships to his parole supervisor, and cannot consume, purchase or possess alcohol or drugs, other than prescription and over-the-counter medications used as directed.

Stewner had several prior stints on parole which ended when he violated his conditions.

Yellow police tape stretches across a street beside a building with the name Sargent Sundae on it. A tan-coloured car is parked inside the area marked off by the tape.
The couple had been separated for two months and Kelly Lynn had a restraining order against Bruce Stewner when they were driving along this stretch of Portage Avenue in May 1994. (CBC)

He was first granted day parole in 2012, but went back to jail in 2013 after using substances and failing to report two intimate relationships.

Stewner was again granted parole in 2016, but it was revoked after he failed to report issues within an intimate relationship and because of concerns that he had consumed alcohol and threatened another person, the decision said.

The parole board said it also denied Stewner day parole in June 2020 and February 2021, following an appeal ordered review. 

‘Vicious, brutal’ attack

In its latest decision, the board said it has not forgotten the harm Stewner inflicted on his estranged wife and her family.

“The judge’s comments on file describe the offence as vicious, brutal, violent and an act of revenge,” the decision said, adding victim and witness statements spoke to the impacts of the killing on the victim’s loved ones and on those who saw the attack happen.

“The murder is an indication of the violence of which … you are capable, particularly within the context of an intimate relationship.”

The parole board’s decision also noted concerns about two urinalysis tests that showed evidence of marijuana use, which Stewner denied.

The board said that issue fit “a pattern of deceptiveness and lack of transparency demonstrated on past unsuccessful day paroles” but noted that use of marijuana did not in itself indicate his risk to reoffend has increased.

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