Love triangle drove killing, court told

Roommate on trial after man hacked to death in apartment


From Friday's Globe and Mail

April 17, 2009 at 4:29 AM EDT

The large axe with the long yellow handle had been the subject of ribbing among the three roommates, an oversized accessory for weekends camping in the woods of Central Ontario.

But the joke ended when 36-year-old Dennis Hoy was found hacked to death inside their Etobicoke apartment, the bloodied axe at his side.

Two of the roommates were later arrested and charged with first-degree murder: Nicola Puddicombe, who was Mr. Hoy's girlfriend of 11 years, and Ashleigh Pechaluk, who was her lover.

The Crown alleges that Mr. Hoy was at the wrong point of a love triangle, murdered because Ms. Pechaluk felt he stood in her way, and because Ms. Puddicombe stood to gain $250,000 in pension and life insurance payments upon his death.

The third roommate, Kilpatrick Knowles, told a jury in Ms. Pechaluk's trial yesterday about the night in October, 2006, when she and Ms. Puddicombe ran screaming to his bedroom door.

"Nicky and Ashleigh were pounding on my door to wake me up," Mr. Knowles said. "When I opened my door, Nicky said Dennis is dead, there's an axe on the bed."

Transcripts of a rambling 911 call placed by Ms. Puddicombe were read aloud by prosecutor Tom Lissaman.

"All I know is that I went into my bedroom ... and there's an axe on my bed and my boyfriend and there's blood all over the place," she told the operator.

Her speech was rushed and disjointed. In addition to the bloody body in her bed, she described her bathing habits, her dog's filth and her cocker spaniel's dislike of cat food, to the operator.

Ms. Pechaluk, who has dark hair and girlish features, passed scribbled notes to her lawyer, Peter Zaduk, throughout Mr. Knowles's testimony in the courtroom of Madam Justice Mary Lou Benotto of the Ontario Superior Court.

During cross-examination, Mr. Zaduk asked Mr. Knowles, a meat cutter who worked at A&P grocery store, about reports that he had a short temper. Mr. Knowles admitted he once cut his sister's cable television wires with a kitchen knife, but denied that he punched holes in the walls of the Etobicoke apartment, or once threatened to attack his sister's friends with a metal pipe.

Mr. Zaduk also suggested that Mr. Knowles had a sexual relationship with Ms. Puddicombe in the months after Mr. Hoy's death, and that she was pregnant at the time of her arrest.

"Are you aware that Nicky has told people that you are the father?" Mr. Zaduk asked.

"No," Mr. Knowles replied.

Ms. Puddicombe will face trial after this one is complete.

The trial continues today with testimony from a forensic police officer.