A 22-year-old man charged with second-degree murder, after Winnipeg teenager Cooper Nemeth's body was found in a garbage bin, was on probation at the time of his arrest for an assault dating back to October 2014.
Nicholas Bell-Wright was arrested early Sunday morning in The Maples neighbourhood of Winnipeg. The body of 17-year-old Nemeth was found Saturday night behind a house on Bayne Crescent in the city's East Kildonan area.
Bell-Wright has one prior conviction for assault based on an incident that occurred on Oct. 24, 2014, according to court documents. Audio recorded during his July 2015 hearing reveals the assault took place in a field on the grounds of River East Collegiate.
Bell-Wright spotted his niece talking to a 16-year-old boy. The boy was with another teen at the time who has an intellectual disability.
At the time, Crown attorney Kerri Anderson said according to statements given to police, Bell-Wright grabbed the 16-year-old boy, threw him to the ground, punched him in the face and stomach.
He then threw the victim against a tree and said, "If I ever see your face in this area again, I'm going to cut your head off," Anderson said.
'There's no excuse for you assaulting a 16-year-old boy.' - Judge Margaret Wiebe
Based on audio from the sentencing hearing, court also heard the victim suffered a cut to his face below the eyebrow, with provincial court Judge Margaret Wiebe characterizing the situation as a "serious assault."
Cam Pauls, Bell-Wright's defence attorney at the time, said his client regretted and apologized for his behaviour. Bell-Wright asked the court for a lenient, conditional release, citing his previously spotless criminal record.
But Judge Wiebe did not grant the conditional release. Instead, Bell-Wright received a suspended sentence that included one year of supervised probation.
"There's no excuse for you assaulting a 16-year-old boy," Wiebe told Bell-Wright at the sentencing hearing last summer.
"You, as a 21-year-old, went after a 16-year-old. I'm not prepared to give a conditional discharge."
Wiebe told Bell-Wright he needed to attend counselling to help manage his anger as part of the rehabilitation process. She also imposed the condition that he is not to have contact with the victim.
Timeline of Nemeth disappearance
Nemeth went missing Feb. 14 after last being seen at a house party one street from where he was found.
- Hundreds search for missing Winnipeg teen Cooper James Nemeth
- Nicholas Bell-Wright, 22, arrested in Cooper Nemeth death
- Cooper Nemeth's friends mourn death of Winnipeg teen
The owner of the Bayne Crescent home was not involved in the homicide, but called police after finding items scattered in their yard and seeing legs coming out of a trash bin.
Police believe Nemeth was killed at another location and moved to that home.
Bell-Wright was living a few blocks away, in a public housing unit on Treger Bay. On Friday, police gathered evidence in plastic bags and towed a car from behind that residence.
They have not said where they believe Nemeth died, or how he was killed.
Bell-Wright said nothing as he appeared in court for the first time Monday via video link. His case has been held over until March 4.