After just over a day spent deliberating, a jury came back Wednesday afternoon with a not guilty verdict in the case of France Sugar, 53.
Frances was charged with second-degree murder after stabbing her daughter Lindey Sugar during a fight at the side of a road just south of Saskatoon.
Defence lawyer Kathy Hodgson-Smith argued at trial that her client killed Lindey in self-defence.
During the trial, court heard testimony from Dennis Kissling. He said Frances and Lindey argued in Lindey’s car before they got into a physical altercation. He testified that what began as a dispute over splitting profits from selling Ritalin turned to Lindey accusing Frances of driving her out of town when she was a child, beating her, then leaving her to walk home on her own. Kissling said Lindey threatened to do the same to Frances as she sped out of town, refusing to let Frances out of the vehicle.
Kissling testified Lindey got out of the car once she stopped outside the city limits, then hauled Frances out of the backseat before the two began scuffling.
Lindey’s wife and supporters stormed out of the courtroom amid tears, cursing and shouting when the jury foreman read out the verdict. Lindey’s wife could be heard yelling: “I’ll be there for you Fran, I swear to God” as she left.
With the decision, Frances Sugar was allowed to walk free after 28 months held in custody before her trial.
Speaking outside the courtroom, Hodgson-Smith said while her client doesn’t face a criminal conviction for killing her daughter, she still has to bear the burden of being responsible for her death.
“Maybe the court system is behind her, but life is ahead. So I think there’s a lot that the family has to deal with and a lot Fran has to deal with ,” she said.