Jeffrey N. Canino worked nearly a quarter century at the same job. His marriage appeared to be sound. Still, he worried he would lose them both.
It’s not known if these are the issues that sparked a confrontation in which Canino stabbed his wife to death. He claims to have no memory of the incident.
Canino, 47, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the Dec. 2, 2009, slaying of 43-year-old Michelle Canino. But attorneys for both sides struggled to explain what went wrong.
“I think there was a sense of loss of control that … triggered the event that morning,” defense attorney Anna Nordtvedt said. “Beyond that, I don’t know if there really is an explanation.”
Canino provided no clues to Superior Court Judge Harold D. Clarke III. Instead, he asked Clarke to use police reports to establish a basis for the plea.
Those records indicate that Canino was concerned about the possibility of losing his job at Camp Chevrolet. And, the couple’s then-11-year-old son told investigators, Canino’s wife indicated she wanted a divorce at the time of the stabbing at the family home, 4518 E. Woodglen Road.
Michelle Canino made two 911 calls that morning pleading for help at the home, located in a subdivision just off Day-Mount Spokane Road.
The son told investigators that he was waiting in the car for his mother to take him to an appointment. He walked back inside the house to check on the delay and found his mother in the kitchen.
On one of the 911 calls, the boy could be overheard saying, “I don’t want you guys to get in a fight like this,” according to court records.
After stabbing Michelle Canino three times in the neck, Jeffrey Canino began stabbing himself as his son struggled to stop him. Deputy Prosecutor John Love said the boy – who is now 13 – suffered cuts to his hands trying to stop his father.
“I’m sure the actions by his son probably did help save (Canino’s) life,” Love said.
As part of the plea, Clarke ordered a lifetime no-contact order between Canino and his son. But attorneys for both sides said that the boy can petition the judge to lift that order after he turns 18.
“He has total control over that,” Love said of the son. “If he wants that removed years down the road, it’s up to him.”
Michelle Canino’s family members attended the plea but reserved comment until after the sentencing.
According to court records, Jeffrey Canino was convicted of a couple of domestic violence-related misdemeanors in 1993 and 1994. Those charges involved his previous wife. Canino had no previous felony convictions.
Love said he wasn’t sure what motivated Canino to kill his wife.
Canino “has never been in a position to describe what happened. He is very remorseful,” Love said. “In domestic violence situations, things like this happen.”
Nordtvedt also struggled to find any motive, saying that friends and relatives described a “good marriage.”
“They didn’t see it coming. I don’t think he probably knows” why he stabbed his wife to death, she said. “He hasn’t indicated to me that he has a memory of it.”