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Lorraine Obed pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2021 St. John's stabbing

Lorraine Obed has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the 2021 slaying of 49-year-old James Corcoran. The 30-year-old had elected trial by jury to contest her second-degree murder charge but changed her plea last week, agreeing to accept the lesser charge.

Obed was set to stand trial on 2nd-degree murder but pleads down to lesser charge

A woman sits in a courtroom, arms folded and resting on the railing in front of her.
Lorraine Obed, 30, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the 2021 slaying of 49-year-old James Corcoran. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

Lorraine Obed fussed and fidgeted in the court dock as she waited for her hearing to begin, turning away from news cameras at every opportunity.

But she remained stoic and unemotional — nearly blasé — as provincial Supreme Court prosecutors read out the details of the night she killed her ex-partner.

Obed pleaded guilty Tuesday to manslaughter for the 2021 slaying of 49-year-old James Corcoran.

The 30-year-old had initially elected trial by jury to contest her second-degree murder charge but changed her plea last week, agreeing to accept the lesser manslaughter charge. On Tuesday, it became clear that prosecutors had gathered overwhelming evidence against her, including dashcam and doorbell video and eyewitness statements.

Obed was arrested more than two years ago after stabbing Corcoran in the Carter's Hill area of St. John's, on the corner of Cookstown Road and Cabot Street.

A woman leans against a court dock with sheriff in foreground
Obed appeared relaxed and indifferent at Tuesday's court appearance, when she officially entered her guilty plea and heard the details of the day she killed Corcoran. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

The killing shocked residents, with one telling CBC News at the time she stayed with the victim and held his hand while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Other onlookers tried to revive Corcoran with CPR, but he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead by police at the scene.

An agreed statement of facts read out in court Tuesday described video that showed Obed repeatedly striking Corcoran. It also showed the lethal blow to Corcoran's chest, severing a vein and puncturing a lung, leaving him bleeding out behind a parked car. Autopsy reports showed a wound 10 centimetres deep.

Witnesses said Obed had been drinking and using cocaine before Corcoran arrived, and the two had an altercation.

They also said Obed danced in the street after stabbing Corcoran, saying "I finally did it."

Cell plant evidence

Police used an undercover officer to gather further evidence on Obed, who refused to answer police questions in interviews.

They used what's known as a "cell plant operation": sending a female officer to prison with Obed to gain her trust as her cellmate.

The undercover operator, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, spoke to Obed about her relationship to Corcoran. In those conversations, Obed admitted to stabbing her former partner but said she could only remember holding a knife, and not the act of using it.

She also told her cellmate that Corcoran was violent and abusive, and had been stalking her at the time of his death, which gave her post-traumatic stress disorder.

Obed is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 18 for a sentencing hearing.

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