Ottawa Citizen
Thursday 1 October 1998

'Desperate for a way out of her marriage'

Closing arguments concur on one fact: Lilian Getkate felt trapped

Peter Hum
The Ottawa Citizen

Maury Getkate, an RCMP psychologist, was shot while he slept at his home on Dec. 8, 1995.

Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen / Lilian Getkate testified her husband forcefully raped her the night she killed him.

The prosecutor and defence lawyer agreed yesterday on one broad point: Lilian Getkate felt trapped in her marriage, and so she shot her husband Maury to death.

But while Ms. Getkate's lawyer told a jury that his client pumped two bullets into her husband because he had brutally abused her for years, assistant Crown attorney Julianne Parfett suggested that anger, resentment and depression were behind the killing.

"She was desperate for a way out of the marriage," Ms. Parfett said. "Killing her husband was the answer to all of her problems."

Mr. Getkate, an RCMP psychologist, was shot with his Ruger Mini-14 rifle while he slept in his Falaise Road home on Dec. 8, 1995. While Ms. Getkate, 38, admits that she killed her husband, her lawyer, Patrick McCann, alleges that she was emotionally, physically and sexually abused to such an extent that she suffered from battered spouse syndrome and was justified in acting as she did. He asked that the jury return a verdict of not guilty of second-degree murder.

Ms. Getkate had been charged with and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Justice James Chadwick last week ruled that there was insufficient evidence of planning and deliberation to support the first-degree murder charge.

Ms. Getkate has testified that in the 16 years she was with her husband, he became increasingly abusive, especially after their two children were born.

She said Mr. Getkate frequently insulted her, grabbed at her, tripped her, and dragged her upstairs by the hair. She said he often threatened her life, pushing her face down into their mattress or grasping her throat.

The jury has seen guns, weaponry and an explosive device recovered at the Getkate home. Mr. McCann said these items helped instill the overpowering fear Ms. Getkate felt for her husband, who also practiced the martial art of ninjitsu and was a foot taller and almost 100 pounds heavier than his wife.

Ms. Getkate has said she also feared her husband was beginning to show sexual interest in their nine-year-old daughter, Dara. She testified that in the five hours before she killed her husband, he forced her twice to engage in rough and kinky sex that left her feeling degraded.

Two psychiatrists who interviewed the accused woman have testified that Ms. Getkate fit the criteria of battered spouse syndrome.

Ms. Parfett noted that Mr. Getkate told a third psychiatrist within days of the shooting that she had never been sexually abused, and that the accused then was being truthful.

Ms. Parfett also said that if there was any physical abuse in the Getkates' relationship, it was at most intermittent. There was no evidence that she was ever injured, "no testimony of so much as a bruise," Ms. Parfett said.

Ms. Parfett said to the jury that Ms. Getkate, and not Mr. Getkate, is on trial.

"I don't think anyone would suggest to you that Maury was a saint, but he was also not a monster," she said.

Mr. McCann said that an hour before he was killed, Mr. Getkate violently raped his wife in their living room, not far from their daughter's bedroom. The jury has heard that this incident made Ms. Getkate fearful for her daughter and triggered the killing.

Ms. Parfett said Ms. Getkate was not violently raped before the killing. Rather, she was deeply insulted after an earlier sexual incident, Ms. Parfett suggested.

Ms. Getkate testified that after she had sex with her husband, about five hours before she killed him, he said to her: "That was the worst piece of ass I've ever had."

"That was the last straw," Ms. Parfett said. "She was insulted in the most profound way a husband can insult his wife."

Ms. Getkate intended to kill her husband, and was not acting in self-defence when she shot him, Ms. Parfett said.

Months before she killed Mr. Getkate, Ms. Getkate consulted a lawyer about her prospects if she were to separate from her husband, the court has heard. Ms. Parfett said for Ms. Getkate, the killing was "the only way she could be sure" that she would have custody of her children, and escape financial difficulties she had created.

The jury has seen that police found in the Getkate home a handwritten note of jottings referring to pension and back pay figures in the event of Mr. Getkate's death.

Mr. McCann said Mr. Getkate's life insurance had elapsed and that "the suggestion that this was done for money really doesn't make much sense."

Ms. Parfett noted that Ms. Getkate has given different accounts of her marriage to three psychiatrists. In each subsequent telling, the abuses become more frequent and intense, she said. There are many examples, Ms. Parfett said, of Ms. Getkate telling the jury one thing and telling "the complete opposite" to the psychiatrists.

Mr. McCann said Ms. Getkate has nothing to hide. "She is what she appears to be, a decent, loving, quiet, gentle young woman," he said.

The accused was also "almost a doormat of a person a perfect sap for an abusive vicious husband who abused her unmercifully for years," he added.

Mr. McCann said there could be only one possible explanation for Ms. Getkate's actions. "She could not see any other way out of this nightmare," he said.

"I ask that you finally put an end to that nightmare," Mr. McCann said, appealing to the jurors that they find his client not guilty.

The jury is to begin deliberating today.