Justin Dumpfrey admitted to stabbing him Holly hamilton 17 times, he dumped her body in the trunk of his car and later cleaned up the scene, but claims he did it in self-defense and to protect his young daughter from the sight of her mother’s body and blood.
The 34-year-old took the stand in his own defense Monday at his second-degree murder trial. He marked the first and only defense witness; his version of events differed enormously from that of the Crown witnesses.
Speaking quickly, Dumpfrey described a chaotic struggle inside his 1510 Barton St. E. apartment on the night of January 14, 2018.
Holly took her four-year-old daughter to visit her, but Dumpfrey said Holly went out and let her daughter sleep on her futon. Holly returned around 10 or 10:30 p.m. with a strange man, who pulled out a knife when Dumpfrey asked him to leave, she said.
While fighting his attacker, Dumpfrey said he cut himself on his arms and upper leg. At one point, he grabbed the man by the wrist to try and control the knife. That’s when Dumpfrey said that Holly started pulling him. Dumpfrey said he hit her and kicked her away.
During the fight, Dumpfrey said he fell and later managed to control the knife by biting the man’s hand. He said he stabbed the man three times, but Holly jumped on his back and strangled him.
“So I turned it over with the knife,” Dumpfrey said. At first, he “came down” by stabbing his stomach, but when his grip only tightened, he said he started stabbing higher, hitting his neck. When he released her, the mystery man fled and Dumpfrey said his daughter woke up to the sound of the door closing. He made sure she was okay before realizing that Holly was dead.
Fearing his daughter would wake up, he said he carried her body and put it in the trunk of his car, which he drove and left it in an underground garage about 10 minutes away. He cleaned out his apartment and threw evidence, including the knife that was never found, in the trash.
Crown Amber Lepchuk accused Dumpfrey of lying and called her testimony “a story.”
Parts of his story were designed to fit the evidence, he argued. For example, in addition to the stabbing, Holly’s body was covered in bruises, which is why Dumpfrey talked about hitting and kicking Holly in self-defense. He also noted blood in the groin area of his pants when he was arrested as evidence of his knife cutting, but Lepchuk noted that the small amount of blood was found on the outside, not inside, of Dumpfrey’s pants.
Parts of Dumpfrey’s story did not match the evidence and defied logic, Lepchuk said. Why didn’t you ask for help? Why would you clean up evidence that, if you are telling the truth, would support your story?
“Is your daughter sleeping in the room, this unknown man with a knife could come back and your answer is to try to cover him up?” Lepchuk asked.
Court has already heard details of Holly’s injuries, including long cuts to her neck.
“You cut her from side to side … from ear to ear, right?” Lepchuk said, adding that the way Dumpfrey was describing hitting Holly over the shoulder while she was choking him does not match those injuries.
Dumpfrey testified that he grew up in Toronto and only moved to Hamilton after meeting Holly. They lived together when their daughter was born in 2013, but they later separated. Dumpfrey’s extensive criminal record includes two convictions for assaulting Holly, one while she was pregnant and the other in the presence of her young daughter.
Dumpfrey described their relationship in the months leading up to Holly’s death as “rocky” and “hot and cold.” His attorney showed the jury a video of the happy family together on the beach and photos of them at Niagara Falls the summer before the murder.
Dumpfrey said things got tougher in the fall, but things got back to good over the Christmas break. But they argued on the day of the murder that Holly told her mother that she believed Dumpfrey had broken into and vandalized her home in November 2017.
That night, he said he was about to pass out (from the strangler) and feared for his life. That’s why he stabbed Holly, in the kitchen area, by the front door of the apartment.
But Lepchuk said that Dumpfrey actually killed Holly in the shower, that’s the only room in the little apartment where his daughter wouldn’t listen to them. Police found evidence of blood cleansing in the shower and her daughter told police she saw her mother “sleeping” in the shower.
“Everything he told this jury today was a lie,” Lepchuk said.
“Wrong,” replied Dumpfrey.
“Every word that came out of his mouth today was a lie,” Lepchuk said.
“Wrong,” he said again.
The trial continues Thursday with closing arguments.
Nicole O’Reilly is a crime and justice reporter for The Spectator. [email protected]
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