Crown tries for conditions on release of 'Internet Black Widow' in N.S.
Melissa Ann Shepard heads to court on Tuesday, Oct.2, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Vaughan Merchant)
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, March 14, 2016 5:28PM EDT
HALIFAX -- An elderly woman known as the Internet Black Widow who is scheduled to leave a Nova Scotia prison on Friday is expected to appear in court Tuesday for a rare Crown application attempting to impose conditions on her release.
Melissa Ann Shepard, now in her early 80s, was sentenced in June 2013 to two years, nine months and 10 days in jail for spiking her newlywed husband's coffee with tranquilizers.
She's scheduled to be released upon serving her full sentence for administering a noxious substance, after being denied parole in the fall by a two-person National Parole Board panel.
"We're opposed to her release unless there are conditions imposed on her release," said Crown prosecutor James Giacomantonio in an interview Monday.
Crown prosecutor James Giacomantonio says the peace bond restrictions include that Shepard report any potential relationship with a man, keep authorities aware of where she is living, and inform police of changes to her appearance.
There are also restrictions on her use of the Internet.
The prosecutor says that Shepard can agree to the peace bond and be released, or she could refuse and either remain in jail or apply for bail while awaiting a court hearing on the matter.
Giacomantonio said the application for the restrictive order is a rarity and required the consent of the province's attorney general.
"It's based on her record and her past ... based on the evidence we have, she still poses a risk," he said.
Born in Burnt Church, N.B., Shepard is known as the "Black Widow" or the "Internet Black Widow" because she has prior convictions stemming from her past relationships.
She was convicted of manslaughter in 1992 in the death of her second husband, Gordon Stewart, who she drugged and ran over twice with a car.
In 2005, Shepard was also sentenced to five years in prison on seven counts of theft from a man in Florida who she had met online.
Shepard has declined an interview request from The Canadian Press relayed to her through Correctional Service Canada.
When the parole board refused Shepard's release, the decision said she has a tendency to fabricate and deny events to correctional staff, and is unable to link consequences to actions. The board also has determined her risk of reoffending in a violent way was unchanged.
An agreed statement of facts released at her 2013 sentencing said Shepard had been Fred Weeks's neighbour in a quiet retirement community, knocked on his door and told him she was lonely and she'd heard he was lonely too.
A civil union ceremony was performed in Weeks's living room, but the marriage was never certified by the province.
During a trip to Newfoundland after the ceremony, Shepard dissolved a cocktail of sedatives into her new partner's coffee.
Evidence at the trial said after receiving the drugs Weeks couldn't distinguish between reverse and drive shifts in his car, and couldn't start the vehicle when it was time to leave the boat.
The couple returned to North Sydney, N.S., and stayed at a bed and breakfast, where Weeks tumbled out of bed and was hospitalized, with tests showing he had tranquilizers in his blood.