A sentence will be handed down today to a man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his life-long friend.
Martin Munro, 37, of Miramichi, New Brunswick, was originally charged with second-degree murder of George William McDonald, 40, earlier this year. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter on Monday in court. A preliminary hearing was supposed to run through until Nov. 25 for Munro.
Jolyn Ten Hove, 37 is also charged with second-degree murder in McDonald’s death. A preliminary hearing is set for her beginning Dec. 12 in Red Deer Provincial Court.
On Jan. 20, at about 2:49 a.m. Red Deer City RCMP and Red Deer Emergency Services were dispatched to Forest Close following a 911 call.
McDonald, 40, originally from Miramichi, New Brunswick, was found dead upon police arrival. An autopsy concluded he died after being strangled.
In an Agreed Statement of Facts, which was read in court on Monday, Chief Crown Prosecutor Anders Quist said Munro and McDonald had known each other since Munro was 12-years-old.
In December 2010, Munro and Ten Hove, who were common-law spouses and living together in Red Deer at Ten Hove’s home, went to New Brunswick to spend Christmas with Munro’s family.
There, they spent time with McDonald. McDonald told the couple that he wanted to come to Alberta and spend time with friends in Sylvan Lake. On Jan. 12, after his accommodation arrangements fell through in Sylvan Lake, Munro invited him to stay at the home he shared with Ten Hove.
Over the course of his stay, McDonald and Ten Hove drank together.
On the evening of Jan. 19, Munro, Ten Hove and McDonald consumed alcohol. At around 1 a.m. on Jan. 20, McDonald walked over to Ten Hove and grabbed her inappropriately in front of Munro. A fight them broke out between the two men and Munro punched McDonald in the face. Ten Hove was told to go and stay in the bathroom, the Agreed Statement of Facts said.
McDonald was about to leave the residence when he lunged at Munro and they fell to the floor. Munro wrapped his arm around McDonald’s head and held on until McDonald went limp.
Ten Hove came out of the bathroom and the couple wrapped a scarf around McDonald’s neck. They also attempted to revive him. Ten Hove put a knife in McDonald’s left hand to make it look like he tried to attack Munro.
Munro called his mother in New Brunswick after the incident and she told him to call the RCMP. He did and when the RCMP arrived, Munro was arrested.
During questioning with the RCMP, Munro lied about McDonald trying to attack him with a knife, something he did to protect Ten Hove, court heard. When Munro learned that Ten Hove told the truth to the RCMP about the knife, he admitted he was lying.
In his sentencing submission, Quist said the chokehold Munro used which killed McDonald was sometimes seen in the movies or in mixed martial arts.
“It’s surprisingly effective. Mr. Munro was not trained on this type of hold. The chokehold used was one that restricted blood flow. He did not realize how dangerous this was.”
He added Munro also misinterpreted McDonald’s twitching while he was being choked as struggling.
“It’s important to look at how this came about. There was some provocation from the deceased, he threatened Mr. Munro’s children, this act did not happen quickly and he sustained a chokehold he knew was causing distress,” said Quist.
John MacNaughton, defence lawyer, said Munro has shown remorse for his actions and he pleaded guilty at the earliest possibility.
“His rehabilitation is strong and there is no doubt in my mind that he will come out of incarceration as a productive member of society,” he said. “This case flared up in a brief moment of time and there was provocation and anger as well. I don’t think Martin was fully aware of the consequences.
“Martin is well aware of all that he’s lost. He’s lost a great deal. He’s lost his friend at his own hands, he lost his connection with Miss Ten Hove, his parents, Miss Ten Hove’s parents and society.”
Court heard that McDonald’s family didn’t file any victim impact statements, however, they were told they had the opportunity to submit them.
“The McDonald family wants to hear from Martin as to why this happened. That’s why they didn’t give their victim impact statements. They don’t want to say anything bad about him,” said MacNaughton.
At the end of the sentencing hearing, Munro read from a statement he had written.
“The morning of January 20th changed a lot of lives and I wish I could take it all back,” said an emotional Munro. “I still mourn the loss of my friend and I’m trying to own up to my actions. I’m sorry that it happened.”
Quist is seeking a seven-year sentence while MacNaughton said a four-year sentence is more appropriate.
Judge Gordon Deck was scheduled to sentence Munro this morning.