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Winnipeg man who stabbed wife to death in 1994 granted day parole in B.C.

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

A man who stabbed his wife to death on a busy Winnipeg street in 1994 has been granted day parole for the first time in five years and will be allowed to visit seven municipalities in B.C.'s Fraser Valley, a Parole Board of Canada decision says.

Bruce Stewner, now 57, is serving a life sentence for the gruesome killing of his estranged wife, Kelly Lynn Stewner, on May 6, 1994.

He stabbed her 20 times in front of bystanders after she ran from their car on Portage Avenue in front of Assiniboine Park. As he attacked her, he told her she deserved it.

At the time of the murder, he was violating a restraining order.

Stewner began serving his sentence in February 1995.

Despite being assessed as having a moderate to high risk to reoffend, he will be allowed to travel within the Fraser Valley area for a period of six months, beginning Dec. 19.

Stewner had prior stints on parole which ended when he violated conditions placed on him.

He was first granted day parole in 2012. In 2013, he went back to jail after using substances and failing to report two intimate relationships. In 2016 he was granted parole again, which ended in 2017 due to alcohol use, failing to report a relationship and threatening another person, according to the PBC.

A woman who says she is his latest victim — and the reason he landed back in jail in 2017 — fears for her life knowing he will be out on parole in less than two weeks.

"My safety is not put first. It just feels like his rights come before mine," the woman told CBC News.

The woman, who CBC News has agreed not to name, was romantically involved with Stewner for a few months when he threatened to kill her.

"He told me if he went back in [to jail] and it was my fault, then he's going to blow my head off."

The Nov. 28 parole board decision also cited another incident with a different woman, where Stewner threatened to "blow her f--king head off" if she did not let him see their son.

A photo of convicted killer Bruce Stewner, taken in 2017. (Submitted)

The woman who spoke to CBC says her life has been turned upside down since learning about his impending release.

"I can't work. I can't think. I can't eat. I can't sleep," she said.

She said she'll be trying to fall asleep only to be jolted awake after dreaming that he's standing in her living room, staring at her.

"This is not how I want to live my life," she said.

Stewner knows where her loved ones live, she said, including her brother and his young children.

As recently as February 2020, the convicted killer was reprimanded for inquiring about his victims, including their location.

He "became elevated and defensive when confronted about [his] behaviour," the November PBC decision reads. 

The decision also cites a history of Stewner pushing back regarding release conditions requiring him to report intimate relationships, and any problems that may arise with a partner.

The woman he threatened to kill in 2017 remembers arguing with him about it.

The couple had been separated for two months and Kelly Lynn had a restraining order against Bruce Stewner when they were driving down Portage Avenue in May 1994. (CBC)

He told her, "I'm 53 years old. I don't have to do that. Why should I?"

Stewner was denied parole in June 2020, and again in February 2021 after an appeal ordered review, the PBC says. 

The board's 2022 decision says that the combined results of two psychological assessments completed in September indicate his risk of reoffending is moderate to high.

Previous parole board decisions

Stewner's most recent request for parole is his fourth attempt in two years.

In February of last year, the PBC noted some improvements in his psychological testing which increased his potential to reintegrate successfully.

Stewner has told the parole board on more than one occasion that he hopes to work with local women's shelters upon release to talk about violence and abuse.

Before the board's review, Stewner submitted a letter requesting an oral hearing. 

The letter says that he takes issues with the content of a victim statement and his psychological assessment. 

His former partner from 2017 said that Stewner often believes that he is the victim.

"Everything that's happened in his life happened to him. Even when he killed his wife, that happened to him," she said.

At the time of the 1994 murder, he said he was in a codependent relationship with his wife, and it triggered his violent outburst, but he had no intention of killing her.

When the judge sentenced Stewner, he described the crime as one of the most vicious, brutal and violent he had seen.

Support is available for anyone affected by intimate partner violence. You can access support services and local resources in Canada by visiting this website. If your situation is urgent, please contact 911 or emergency services in your area.

Though some in-person support services are closed due to COVID-19, phone lines and online support remains available for most centres in Manitoba:

  • Ikwe Widdjiitiwin: 1-800-362-3344 (toll-free).
  • Willow Place Crisis: 204-615-0311 or 1-877-977-0007.
  • Provincial crisis line: 1-877-977-0007 (toll-free).
  • Brandon Women's Resource Centre: 204-726-8632 or 1-866-255-4432.