Seeking a reprieve from a life sentence
Husband-killer Cherrylle Dell files faint-hope application
Serving a life sentence for murdering her husband, Cherrylle Dell has taken the first step toward early parole.
More than 15 years into a life sentence for murdering her husband with antifreezelaced wine, Cherrylle Dell has taken the first step toward release on early parole.
Dell has filed a faint hope application, according to her Ottawa lawyer, Jeffrey Schroeder.
The now 58-year-old Dell was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years after being convicted of first-degree murder in the Dec. 28, 1995 killing of her husband, Scott Dell, in Killaloe.
She was also charged in the murder of her lesbian lover, Nancy Fillmore, but pleaded guilty to the much lesser charge of counselling Fillmore’s killer, Brent Crawford, to intimidate Fillmore.
Fillmore told police that Dell bought the antifreeze, laced a bottle of white wine with it and delivered it to her estranged husband.
Dell then kept her husband up all night on the phone, encouraging him to drink it, according to Fillmore.
Fillmore died in a fire in August 1997.
Crawford, who was 16 at the time of the killing, was later convicted of first-degree murder in Fillmore’s death.
Schroeder said Dell now admits she killed her husband and accepts responsibility for what she has done.
Schroeder said Dell is in the first stage of her faint hope application, having filed her prison records along with his written submissions to Ontario’s Chief Superior Court Justice, Heather Forster Smith.
A yet-to-be appointed judge will review the material, and if he or she feels there is a “substantial likelihood” a jury would recommend early parole, a hearing will be scheduled.
The jury then hears the evidence, and can recommend that Dell receive early parole.
It is only then that the matter is referred to the National Parole Board, which has the final say on when Dell would be granted escorted and unescorted passes, work release, day parole and, eventually, full parole.
The faint hope provisions of the Criminal Code have since been abolished, although Dell is still eligible because her conviction predated changes to the law.
“When the jury recommends immediate parole eligibility, that just means you can get into the line,” said Schroeder.
“It means nothing whatsoever about opening the steel doors and out you pop,” he said. “That is completely and utterly a myth, if anyone holds that opinion.”
It typically takes four to five years before full parole might be granted, Schroeder said.
That was little comfort to Scott Dell’s 90-year-old mother, Myra Dell.
Myra Dell called early release for her “conniving” former daughter-inlaw a “bad idea.”
“We were in the court the day the judge sentenced her and he said no chance of parole for 25 years,” said Dell.
“We were so glad when she was put away. I can’t imagine if she was out, I really can’t.
“You know how some people are in jail and you have to feel sorry for them? All I felt for her was such a relief that she was in there because she caused so much harm for everyone. She really and truly did,” Dell said.
Myra Dell said she is most concerned for Scott and Cherrylle’s children.
She said she fears the day Cherrylle is released.
Elsa Steenberg, a close friend of Scott Dell, said there is “no way” Cherrylle Dell should be released early.
“I think of all the lives she’s ruined,” said Steenberg.
Schroeder said Dell was nearly killed in prison after being attacked by another inmate with a metal rod shortly after she was first incarcerated. The attack left Dell with “devastating” physical and psychological injuries and delayed her access to prison programming, Schroeder said.
But Dell has since earned certificates for completing several rehabilitation programs, including cognitive therapy.
“Subsequently she’s completed numerous psychological programs, and has received very positive psychological assessments regarding her dealing with the offence in particular and with respect to her future,” said Schroeder.
Schroeder said Dell has recently been transferred to Ontario’s Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener to be closer to supportive family members and friends. Dell is currently eligible for parole in 2022.
Schroeder said he wouldn’t be proceeding with the application if he didn’t believe there was a chance it would succeed.
Legal Aid Ontario, which is funding the application, has also reviewed and approved it.
“She’s a 58-year-old woman who was convicted of the most serious offence in the Criminal Code, who has served in excess of 15 years in the penitentiary and is now asking to get into line to have the National Parole Board determine whether or not the protection of the public can only be served by her remaining behind bars,” said Schroeder.