Ottawa Citizen
Thursday 18 January 2001

Cherrylle Dell won't testify as Crown wraps up case

Case against Killaloe woman accused of killing spouse nears conclusion

Peter Hum
The Ottawa Citizen

After almost two months in Ottawa and Pembroke courtrooms, the Crown yesterday called its final witness in its murder prosecution of Cherrylle Dell.

The trial has been the subject of much talk in the Ottawa Valley where the accused lives. The court has heard of her bisexual love affairs and the bizarre details of two deaths.

The case is racing to conclusion, with the defence expected to call witnesses next week and a judge's decision on the accused woman's guilt or innocence expected soon after.

Mrs. Dell, a 46-year-old Killaloe woman, is not expected to testify but to remain silent on the question that has confounded the court since mid-November: Did she fatally poison her husband Scott with a bottle of wine laced with anti-freeze?

Mr. Dell died Dec. 29, 1995, and his death was at first considered a suicide. It was not until December 1997 that police charged Mrs. Dell with first-degree murder.

The Crown's case is circumstantial. The court has no evidence before it that Mrs. Dell was seen preparing the poisoned wine or that she gave her husband the lethal bottle of Piat d'Or found at his home.

However, scores of witnesses including Dells' daughters and the accused woman's neighbours have testified Mrs. Dell hated her husband before he died and pursued what the Crown has a called a "vendetta" against him.

They have told Ontario Superior Court Judge James Chadwick, who is hearing the case instead of a jury, that Mrs. Dell told authorities her husband spoke of having cancer before he died. An autopsy found him cancer-free.

Two witnesses have said Mrs. Dell told them she killed her husband with poisoned wine.

Many witnesses, including some of Mr. Dell's relatives and his doctors, testified that far from seeming suicidal, he had a positive outlook while he battled cancer and had short-term plans and long-term dreams when he died.

Yesterday, an acquaintance of the Dells, Margaret Atkinson, testified that she gave Mr. Dell moral support during 1993 and 1994 when he waged his battle with throat cancer.

"It's like mentally holding hands with someone," she said.

Ms. Atkinson, who had earlier beaten cancer, described Mr. Dell as "very receptive" to her discussions about healing, meditation and diet.

She also said shortly before he died, Mr. Dell agreed to provide her eggs from his chickens.

Ms. Atkinson said Mr. Dell's death shocked her.

She said she attended his funeral, where she saw Mrs. Dell, in a wheelchair, address the mourners. Mrs. Dell said: "And what about me? I need some sympathy," court was told.

Ms. Atkinson said Mrs. Dell gave the impression when she spoke to the mourners that her husband loved her.

The night of the funeral, Ms. Atkinson spoke privately with Mrs. Dell, court heard. Ms. Atkinson asked Mrs. Dell how her husband could have died after having beaten cancer.

Mrs. Dell replied: "Maybe it had something to with his medication," Ms. Atkinson said.

"My heart sank when she said that," she said.

Judge Chadwick is to hear legal arguments today on whether expert evidence from a psychologist heard earlier this week should be admitted.

Dr. Antoon Leenaars, a Windsor-based expert in suicide, testified Mr. Dell was not suicidal at the time of his death.

Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.