One of the most important murder trials in Canada. Angelina Napolitano murdered her husband with an axe and was sentenced to be executed…
Although it had sparked unprecedented worldwide media frenzy, Angelina’s story was virtually unknown to the general public and was the first case in Canadian history to use the Battered Women’s Syndrome’ defense. Napolitano killed her husband on April 16, 1911 after claiming being abused by him for a long period of time.
Angelina Napolitano was a married immigrant woman who was in an abusive marriage. Angelina was subject to regular beatings from her husband and legal recourse in her situation was futile as the courts of the time tried their best not to involve themselves in the private lives of citizens. At this time, the generally accepted norm was that husbands could treat their wives as they seemed fit and occasionally “correcting” them was not uncommon. However, even this common practice was taken to extremes when on one occasion Angelina’s husband, Pietro Napolitano stabbed her nine times with a pocket knife. Angelina was a mother of four and pregnant with a fifth child when her husband started to force her into prostitution because of the family’s financial difficulties. After many arguments over the matter, many of which were violent, Angelina killed her husband with an axe while he was sleeping.