(Samantha Anderson)
(Samantha Cherish Anderson)

What does the “supervised” in supervised probation mean in Manitoba, exactly?

It’s a question churning around and around in my head today as I dug into the wealth of justice system-related background available on Shayla Woodford, a 21-year-old Manitoba woman accused by police of murdering her one-time live-in lover Samantha Cherish Anderson.

Anderson died Dec. 21, weeks after police say she was attacked in a Boyd Avenue home on Dec. 2 — the day before her 24th birthday.

Woodford was accused (and she’s presumed innocent) right from the start, arrested just after the incident on aggravated assault and probation breach charges.

She was officially rearrested for second-degree murder earlier this week.

At the time of Anderson’s death, Woodford was out on bail (for the 7th time since late 2009) and bound by two supervised probation orders meant to either keep her in check, help rehabilitate her or, more likely, both of those things.

While the latest two cases she faces have yet to be proven, Woodford’s habit of getting collared for crimes raises questions about the level of supervision to be expected when a sentenced person is placed on supervised probation by the courts.

An unusual feature is how Woodford’s involvement with the justice system only dates back three years, shortly after she turned 18 and began her relationship with Anderson.

Since then, however, she’s been arrested and released multiple times for a variety of different offences, some of them domestic-related and others not.

To try and make sense of it, I crafted a timeline out of the available information. After taking a number of hours to consider it and its implications, I’ve decided to present it here for the record:

November 2008: Woodford and Anderson begin their relationship.

Sept 12, 2009: The couple are now living together on Young Street. Woodford, drunk on 24 Budweiser beer, assaults Anderson — even turning up the stereo to mask the sounds of the attack — and is arrested at the scene by police. She’s released on conditions she have no contact with Anderson as the case makes its way through the courts.

October 2009: The couple are back living together despite the no-contact conditions.

January 25-Feb 1, 2010: Sometime in this period, Woodford assaults Anderson again after getting a call from her lawyer, who reads to her Anderson’s statement from the prior incident.

Feb 12, 2010: Woodford asks Anderson “who she’s trying to look good for.” The incident prompts Anderson to flee their home and she tells police she’s forced to hide in a restaurant for 30 minutes to an hour to evade her lover. She spends the rest of the weekend at a friend’s home.

Feb 14, 2010: Woodford spots Anderson outside, pulls up in a car and drags her into it. Woodford pushes her into her home, pulling off Anderson’s shoes and tossing them in the snow, telling her “She’s never going anywhere again.” She then bites her on the arm.

Feb 16, 2010: Anderson discloses recent events to police and they arrest Woodford.

March 29, 2010: Woodford is released on bail to live with family, ordered to have no contact with Anderson and stay a minimum of two blocks away from her at all times.

Nov. 14, 2010: Anderson’s mother has a phone conversation with her daughter, hears Woodford in the background and calls police out of concern. Police attend and take her into custody.

Dec. 22, 2010: Woodford, granted bail weeks earlier, can’t raise a required surety, so conditions are changed on this day to remove that condition. She’s freed, ordered to abide by a nightly curfew and again, have no contact with Anderson.

March 4, 2011: Cops investigating an unrelated compliant are sent on a goose chase trying to find Woodford. They’re told she left town for her home community of Fairford First Nation for the weekend.

March 8, 2011: Woodford stops signing in at bail supervision.

June 7, 2011: Winnipeg cops finally catch up to her after they nearly hit her with a cruiser car when she walks out in front of it near Logan Avenue and Tecumseh Street. The warrant for her arrest comes to light.

Aug. 5, 2011: Woodford, held in custody now, pleads guilty to three counts of assault and a number of breaches. Judge Tim Preston cautions her about her conduct toward Anderson and apportions some of her dead time to the various charges she pleaded to. She’s released that same day on a two year long supervised probation order, with conditions including avoiding Anderson for the entire term, take domestic violence counselling and a weapons ban. These marked her first-ever convictions. “That relationship was not healthy, it’s over,” Preston tells her. “I don’t want you having anything to do with her.”

Dec. 10, 2011: A heavily intoxicated Woodford steals a Duffy’s Taxi driver’s cab, only to be arrested behind the wheel not long after. Belligerent, it takes hours for police to get a breath reading off of her. She blows .210, nearly three times the legal limit.

Dec. 12, 2011: She’s released on bail.

Feb 16, 2012: Woodford is again back in court for reasons that weren’t made clear. But they obviously had something to do with Anderson, because her bail conditions are set to include having no contact with her. She is also barred from being in the City of Winnipeg except for probation and court-related meetings or appointments.

April 6, 2012: Anderson and Woodford are riding a city bus together when one of them decides to snatch an iPhone from a passenger’s hands. They flee, but the passenger gives chase. The two women play a game of keep away with the phone until the victim restrains Woodford and Anderson jets off with the phone. Police ultimately arrest both. The charge against Anderson is stayed at a later date. Woodford is charged with the theft and a no-contact breach.

July 6, 2012: Woodford’s second sentencing: Only through her probing the lawyers does Judge Heather Pullan come to discover out a small amount of the troubled past shared by Woodford and Anderson. “What about Ms. Anderson?,” Pullan asks. “(Woodford’s) victimized her before and is now getting in trouble with her,” she says. She’s told it was Anderson who contacted Woodford this time around and that the relationship is “complex.”

Neither the Crown nor defence requests any additional probation as part of this sentence.

Pullan rebuffs that and imposes another two-year term, despite the fact she appears to be holding her nose somewhat due to Woodford’s conduct on the prior order: “This whole line of behaviour tells me you don’t care what the court says, you’re going to do what you’re going to do and victimize people,” she tells Woodford. “You have to understand, Ms. Woodford, you’re running out of chances.”

Pullan did wonder aloud why it was the prior probation term seemed to be failing to help Woodford get straight, but appeared to push the onus right back on her.

“You’re treating this whole thing as a joke. It’s really hard to protect the public from you,” Pullan tells her.

Sept. 12, 2012: Woodford is accused of several new charges, including assault, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and breach of probation. The incident obviously involves Portage Place Mall, as:

Sept 17, 2012: Woodford is released on bail with conditions she live at an address in Gypsumville and not move without permission and to stay away from Portage Place mall.

October 29, 2012: A Probation officer files a report in support of charging Woodford with new breaches as she can’t be located in Fairford, and a relative says she asked for her stuff to be sent down to Winnipeg. The relative refused to give the probation officer the contact number. The officer warns in the letter that Woodford was assessed at “high risk for general criminal conduct” and she has a “propensity to become violent.” A relative told the officer: “She is supposed to be staying with me and I have tried to help her and now I don’t know what to do.”

Dec. 2, 2012: Anderson is attacked with a kitchen knife inside a Boyd Avenue home and police charge Woodford. They say the two were living at the home. A 17-year-old girl is also injured in the attack.

Dec. 21, 2012: Anderson dies of her injuries.

Dec. 24, 2012: Police announce they have charged Woodford with second-degree murder and she remains in custody.

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13 thoughts on “Catch and release: Notes on the Samantha Anderson homicide

  1. Sigh. No one in the system took the time to draw up a timeline like you did? To me this reads like so many other domestic violence files must. “Supervised” indeed.

  2. Perhaps “supervision” of convicted offenders in the criminal justice system is similar to “supervision ” of front line workers in the child welfare system. Perhaps it means that front line workers bear the brunt of the accountability in the system but have minimal power or authority, minimal institutional/systemic support, and insulate their “superiors” from responsibility for carrying out the mandate of the agency. I wonder if this hypothesis holds in other areas of provincial responsibility as well?

    Thanks for asking the question and opening discussion.

    1. Did I miss something? I’m not seeing the connection between supervised probation of criminals and supervision of front line workers in the child welfare system. What are you trying to say, exactly?

    2. I understood your response Kathleen. I didn’t understand the connection Kachina was making. I was seeking clarification from you, Kachina. Thanks. No worries if you don’t see this.

      1. I suppose my point is essentially that there is little correlation between laws and legislation and the reality experienced by people who are affected by those laws and legislation. We have a false sense that we are protected and empowered. Criminals on supervised conditions of community release are not effectively monitored, violations are inadequately addressed. Supervision of frontline workers is inadequate, and support of “superiors” as well as resources to meet reasonable expectations does not exist. We look good on paper which seems increasingly irrelevant to the actual experiences of stakeholders.

  3. Just a quick note for Kachina: In my research of the child welfare system, “front-line workers” have immense power to carry out the mandate of the agency. They can enter a home without a warrant on the basis of one tip. And do so with the support of their supervisor/s and agency.

    Someone please correct me if that is wrong.

    1. From the CFS Act:

      Apprehension of a child in need of protection
      21(1) The director, a representative of an agency or a peace officer who on reasonable and probable grounds believes that a child is in need of protection, may apprehend the child without a warrant and take the child to a place of safety where the child may be detained for examination and temporary care and be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of this Part.

      Entry without warrant in certain cases
      21(2) The director, a representative of an agency or a peace officer who on reasonable and probable grounds believes
      (a) that a child is in immediate danger; or
      (b) that a child who is unable to look after and care for himself or herself has been left without any responsible person to care for him or her;
      may, without warrant and by force if necessary, enter any premises to investigate the matter and if the child appears to be in need of protection shall
      (c) apprehend the child and take the child to a place of safety; or
      (d) take such other steps as are necessary to protect the child.

      Warrant to search for child
      21(3) On application, a judge, master or justice of the peace who is satisfied that there are reasonable and probable grounds for believing there is a child who is in need of protection, may issue a warrant authorizing an agency or a peace officer
      (a) to enter, by force if necessary, a building or other place specified in the warrant and search for the child; and
      (b) if the child appears to be in need of protection,
      (i) to apprehend the child and to take the child to a place of safety, or
      (ii) to take such other steps as are necessary to protect the child.

      Child need not be named
      21(4) It is not necessary in the application or the warrant to describe a child by name.

      Assistance of peace officer
      21(5) The director or a representative of an agency who needs assistance in apprehending a child may seek the assistance of a peace officer and the peace officer shall provide the assistance.

  4. if the winnipeg courts saw that shes going to continue to do foolish things this wouldve never happened. shady obviously wasnt “rehabilitating” anything if she keeps going in and out. the more u go in for 2 days here, a week here , 5 days there, it becomes nothing to commit crimes because shes being let out all the time. she was doing 5 days for crimes that people have gotten 6 months for. the courts shouldve seen the fact that she was a threat to socioty. shady was just another girl in winnipeg with a troubled life, blamed everyone, took out everything on everyone else, and yeah she probably does need counceling and rehab, but why couldnt she have gotten it in jail. i know theres an aboriginal court system that provides those kinds of supports and programs to inmates. letting her out that 7th time was just setting her up for failure, and now sams gone. rip samantha anderson

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