Fatal stabbing suspect to face trial

65-year-old Earnestine “Tina” Canuet

65-year-old Earnestine “Tina” Canuet

Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 06:06 PM.

PANAMA CITY — A Chipley woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend in an American Legion parking lot and deemed incompetent to stand trial will proceed toward a court date following a judge’s order Monday.

Circuit Court Judge Elijah Smiley ruled 65-year-old Earnestine “Tina” Canuet, who has not yet pleaded to the manslaughter charges against her, was competent to continue court proceedings. The charges stem from an October 2013 stabbing incident at the Southport American Legion Post 375 at 6937 State 77, where Richard Lielasus, 68, suffered a 6-inch gash to the left side of his stomach.

Lielasus died from his wounds about a month later, and the charges against Canuet were upgraded from aggravated battery with a deadly weapon to manslaughter before a doctor deemed her incompetent to proceed in February due to depression.

One witness told investigators Canuet came into the Legion’s bar Oct. 21 waving the bloodied 12-inch blade in the air, stating, “I did it; I killed him,” according to arrest records. But Lielasus wasn’t dead at the time. When authorities arrived on the scene, Lielasus was on the ground in the parking lot and appeared to be going into shock as he was taken to a local hospital.

Other bar patrons moved Canuet, whose shirt was stained with Lielasus’ blood, back outside and pinned her against a Ford pickup truck while they waited for Bay County Sheriff’s deputies to arrive. As she was being handcuffed, she wept and said, “I’m sorry” over and over, according to initial BCSO reports.

Lielasus died in November, and prosecutors filed charges of manslaughter against Canuet in December. She was released Monday and her plea hearing was set for Aug. 28.



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