Canoe News

Friday, November 23, 2001

Woman guilty in beating death

By JAMES MCCARTEN-- Canadian Press
Canoe News

WINNIPEG (CP) -- For the second time, a jury has decided a former university researcher beat her professor husband to death and left him lying in a pool of blood in their driveway.

On Friday, the jury found 62-year-old Ludmila Ilina guilty of second-degree murder for the 1995 death of her husband Zbigniew (Ted) Mieczkowski, a University of Manitoba professor.

This was Ilina's second trial. The Manitoba Court of Appeal had overturned her previous second-degree murder conviction in March 2000 and ordered a new trial.

After Friday's verdict, the judge imposed a mandatory a life sentence without possibility of parole for 10 years.

Defence lawyer Richard Wolson immediately said he intended to appeal and would be seeking bail for Ilina as early as Thursday.

Noting the jurors had deliberated since Wednesday, Wolson said outside court that they must have had reasonable doubt.

"Obviously some did and they caved in, so it is terribly disappointing and I am very concerned for Dr. Ilina," he said. "She has suffered greatly. It's been a number of years now and she continues to suffer."

Ilina sat quietly, then sipped water and took some medication after the verdict was read.

Court heard during the second trial that she called 911 on July 20, 1995, to report her husband was dead.

Mieczkowski, 72, was discovered lying under a bicycle in the couple's driveway. An autopsy revealed the academic died from blunt trauma to the head.

The Crown prosecutor argued Ilina beat her husband to death, dressed his corpse and dragged it to the driveway of their home where she placed a bicycle on top of it.

But Wolson said Mieczkowski was killed by one or more intruders and suggested the Crown's case was built on speculation.

In overturning Ilina's first conviction, the Appeal Court said the trial judge erred in not instructing the jury to consider the scenario put forward by the defence, that an intruder killed the professor and dragged his body to the driveway.

Also, the first trial judge failed to make reference to the fact a murder weapon was never found, despite an intensive police search of the area.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.