20 Sep 2013

Murder charge unwarranted - lawyer

5:48 am on 20 September 2013

A defence lawyer whose client was cleared of all charges relating to the death of her partner believes the Crown should have used its discretion and not prosecuted her.

A High Court jury in Wellington on Thursday found Jessica Keefe not guilty of either the murder or manslaughter of Sean Verma.

Jessica Keefe.

Jessica Keefe. Photo: RNZ

The Crown said Ms Keefe was drunk and angry when she stabbed her partner in the chest in January, but the defence said she was acting in self-defence.

Ms Keefe's lawyer Donald Stevens QC says his client had suffered years of violent batterings from her partner and the evidence clearly showed she used the knife in a bid to defend herself.

He says in every case the crown has a discretion as to whether or not to prosecute and on this occasion they should have used it.

"In some cases it may be quite clear that it is (self defence) and in those cases, in my view, it's not appropriate to to prosecute when all you're doing is further traumatising the victim," he says.

Dr Stevens says Jessica Keefe had already been traumatised by years of abuse and the trial process simply added to that.