Murder trial begins for man accused of killing woman whose body was found in a barrel

The first-degree murder trial of Perez Cleveland, the man accused of killing of woman whose body was found in a barrel, is underway.

The trial for the man accused in the 2016 murder of a woman whose body was found in a barrel behind a Waverley Heights home, began Tuesday afternoon in a Winnipeg courtroom.

Perez Adaryll Cleveland, 46, is charged with first degree murder in the death of Jennifer Barrett.

In her opening statement, Crown prosecutor Breta Passler said the case is about one man’s control in a “bizarre and disturbing” case.

“You will hear about a man with five wives,” she said. ” A man’s jealousy, his reaction to a possible loss of control,” which Passler said led to the death of Jennifer Barrett, 42.

Passler told the 12-person jury the three-week trial will uncover the details of Barrett’s life as one of five wives in a household that also included Cleveland’s adult daughter.

“We believe the case you’re about to hear is about control — one man’s control over six women,” Passler said.

Passler said the other four surviving women will be testifying as witnesses in the case.

According to the Crown, Cleveland moved to Winnipeg in late 2014 from out of province with his adult daughter and three female ‘wives’, including Barrett.

It wasn’t until sometime around spring 2016, she said, two more women joined the group.

Police believe Barrett, originally from Sudbury, ON., died sometime in August 2016 from injuries she sustained from an ongoing assault. Officers said Barrett’s body was put inside a barrel along with several chemical agents which accelerated the decomposition of the body.

The Crown said Cleveland forced two of the women to dispose of the body.

Two women, Jessica Reid of Winnipeg, and Holley Alyssa Sullivan of Calgary, were arrested in February 2017 and charged with accessory after the fact in connection to Barrett’s killing.

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Barret’s remains weren’t discovered until December of that year, three months after police believe she was killed. Officers needed DNA tests to confirm Barrett’s identity.

“Ms. Reid will tell you that she was present in the basement during the multi-day assault. Present in the basement when (Barrett) left the home. Present in the basement as the beating continued and Miss Barrett died,” said Passler.

Officer Jason Dee with the Winnipeg Police Service’s Forensic Identification Unit helped search the home on Dec. 1, 2016.

“We located a metal barrel in the rear yard,” he said.

The barrel was laying on its side at the time and Dee said they needed to gently lift the barrel upright. After testing the barrel for fingerprints officers carefully removed the lid.

“It was a little ambiguous,” he said of what was inside. “But we soon saw what we believed to be a body.”

Dee said about a quarter of the barrel had some sort of chemical substance in it.

A second “burning barrel” was also located in the middle of the backyard.

Cleveland’s trial is scheduled for 18 days in front of a jury and Justice Glenn Joyal.

The Waverley Heights property where Jennifer Barrett lived.

The Waverley Heights property where Jennifer Barrett lived.

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