Ottawa Citizen
Thursday 17 September 1998

Slain man described as calm, gentle

'I've seen more ill-tempered teddy bears,' friend says

Peter Hum
The Ottawa Citizen

A collection of martial-arts weapons was found in the Getkate house.

Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen / Lilian Getkate has admitted killing her husband, but has invoked battered-wife syndrome and pleaded not guilty.

Rod MacIvor, The Ottawa Citizen / This rifle, owned by Maury Getkate, has been identified by police as the weapon that killed the Falaise Road man.

To his friend Travis Gee, Maury Getkate was an admirable man: devoted to his family, accomplished in his profession, crazy about intellectual pursuits, and guileless to those who knew him.

On the night Mr. Getkate's son Kevin was inducted into Beavers, Mr. Getkate "was very proud of it. He wanted to be part of his children's lives," Mr. Gee testified yesterday.

He recalled the enjoyment Mr. Getkate took in attending the Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair. "Maury in a bookshop was like a kid in a candy store," Mr. Gee said.

Mr. Gee, a former co-worker of Mr. Getkate, said his friend was popular in the workplace because there was nothing hidden or secret about him. He was "transparent," Mr. Gee said. "He was who he appeared to be."

Mr. Gee described his friend to a jury charged with determining whether Mr. Getkate's wife, Lilian, murdered him in their Falaise Road home.

On Dec. 8, 1995, Mr. Getkate, then 37, was shot twice in his bed while he slept. Ms. Getkate, now 38, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, although her lawyer, Patrick McCann, told the jury this week that she did kill her husband.

Mr. McCann, in his address to the jury, said the defence for his client is centred on the allegation that Mr. Getkate was anything but "transparent" -- that he led a "secret life," abusing his wife physically and emotionally so that she suffered from "battered spouse syndrome" before she killed him.

Mr. Gee, a Crown witness, told the jury that he met Mr. Getkate, an RCMP industrial organizational psychologist, in 1993. They met when both men worked for Corrections Canada and became friends outside work, visiting each others' homes and occasionally shooting pool.

The jury has seen that after Mr. Getkate was killed, police seized several rifles, a cache of exotic and illegal weaponry, and books dealing with sniping, covert operations and explosives from the Getkate home. Mr. McCann alleged that Mr. Getkate had intimidated his wife with his paramilitary skills.

Mr. Gee told the jury that Mr. Getkate never expressed any interest to him in guns, martial arts or survivalism. "I don't think he had time for very many outside interests," Mr. Gee said.

Mr. Gee also said that he had never seen Mr. Getkate lose his temper, become violent or act out against his wife and two children. Under cross-examination, Mr. Gee repeated that his friend never displayed a foul temper. "I've seen more ill-tempered teddy bears," he told Mr. McCann.

Mr. McCann asked Mr. Gee if he knew of the weapons that police had seized, if he was surprised to know that the Getkate home held a weapons cache that included ninja throwing stars and nunchaku fighting sticks.

"Are you sure they weren't hers?" said Mr. Gee.

"Did he (Mr. Getkate) ever discuss with you the fact that he had a live, improvised explosive device in his basement?" Mr. McCann asked. Police found such an invention, which RCMP bomb experts later detonated.

"None of this is consistent with what you knew?" Mr. McCann continued.

"Not without alternative explanations being offered, no," Mr. Gee said.

In her opening address, assistant Crown attorney Julianne Parfett said the Getkates were financially troubled, and that police found a steno pad with notes regarding pension and back pay. The notes included the phrase "if Maury died."

Ottawa-Carleton police Det. Paul Holland testified that in the Getkates' laundry room, he discovered a bundle of unopened, unpaid bills dating from the fall of 1994. Mr. Getkate's MasterCard account and Ms. Getkate's Visa and Zellers accounts had gone largely unpaid, the court heard.

The court also heard yesterday that Mr. Getkate's salary was in the range of $60,000 and that Ms. Getkate did not work. Mr. Gee said that Mr. Getkate entrusted money-management to his wife.

Det. Holland also found altered financial records, in which numbers were cut and pasted to falsify the documents.

The records, he said, were "consistent with someone hiding the realities of the financial situation from someone else."

Mr. McCann asked whether the records were consistent with someone acting in fear. "That would be speculation on my part," Det. Holland answered.

The jury also heard a tape of the 911 call that Ms. Getkate made the morning Mr. Getkate was killed.

As the tape played and Ms. Getkate's at times frantic speech and sobbing were heard in the courtroom, the accused woman dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.

"Are you require an ambulance, Ma'am? Hello?" the 911 operator is heard to say.

"There's blood all over my husband," Ms. Getkate says.

"Ma'am, is your husband unconscious?" the operator asks later.

"He doesn't look like he's breathing," Ms. Getkate replies. "There's blood all over."

The operator dispatches an ambulance, and asks: "Do you know where the blood is coming from?"

"It's splattered all over ... I don't know ... I don't know ... It's all over," Ms. Getkate sobs.

On the tape, she tells that she had been sleeping with her daughter downstairs and was awakened by the sound of footsteps and a loud bang. She says she then heard some running.

The police officers who responded to the 911 call also testified yesterday. They described how on the bitterly cold morning of Dec. 8, 1995, Ms. Getkate and her children sought refuge in a police cruiser as officers entered their home.

Const. Dan Berrea testified that he sat with the Getkates in a cruiser, and that Ms. Getkate at first was crying and upset. Later, Const. Berrea told Ms. Getkate that her husband had died. Ms. Parfett asked what her reaction was.

"Ms. Getkate started to cry," he said. She then asked, "Was an extra key used to get in the house?" the officer said.

The trial continues today.