Trial for ‘Black Widow’ not to proceed; plea deal possible

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SYDNEY – The Supreme Court trial for a Nova Scotia woman charged with attempting to murder the man she had just married is not expected to proceed as scheduled next week.

Instead, there are indications a plea deal may have been reached in the case of Melissa Ann Shephard whose two-week trial was set to open Monday.

Both defence lawyer Alan Nicholson and Crown prosecutor Diane McGrath offered cryptic responses Tuesday when asked if the trial would be proceeding.

“She will be here Monday is all I can say,” said Nicholson, declining to comment on whether there would even be a trial.

McGrath said Shephard will be in court Monday afternoon and again on Tuesday but that the remainder of the time scheduled for the trial would not be needed.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Kennedy is still scheduled to preside over the case.

In addition to attempted murder, Shephard is also charged with administering a noxious substance, benzodiazepine, with intent to endanger a life. The offences are alleged to have occurred between Sept. 24 and Sept. 30, 2012, in North Sydney.

The complainant in the case is Fred Weeks, of New Glasgow, who married Shephard a day prior to the couple hitting the road for a honeymoon. The province’s Vital Statistics division afterward advised Weeks it would not be registering his marriage because false information was provided on the marriage document.

Shephard already has a criminal record involving former husbands and boyfriends and has been dubbed, by media, as the “Internet Black Widow.”

She was convicted in 1991 of manslaughter in connection with the death of another husband. She was also convicted of fraud and served time in a Florida jail in connection with another man she met via an Internet dating site.

Shephard is being held at the provincial women's correctional centre in Dartmouth and previously waived her right to a bail hearing. She has been on remand since her arrest last September.

She was living in a seniors apartment complex in New Glasgow where she met and married Weeks.

Cape Breton Regional Police were alerted to the couple after they checked into a North Sydney bed and breakfast where Fred Weeks was reported to be ill and was later taken to the Northside General Hospital.

Organizations: Supreme Court, Vital Statistics division, Northside General Hospital

Geographic location: SYDNEY, Nova Scotia, North Sydney New Glasgow Florida Dartmouth

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