2nd attack in 27 minutes was death blow: Judge
Travis Chief found guilty of manslaughter in Henry Kipling's death, even though he'd been assaulted earlier
Travis Chief wasn't the first person to assault Henry Kipling the night he died, but a judge rejected his claim it was the first attacker who should be held solely responsible and convicted him Monday of manslaughter.
Chief, who was also convicted of one count of robbery, will be sentenced at a later date.
Kipling, a 43-year-old Peguis First Nation resident, was in Winnipeg for a wedding social when he was fatally assaulted Feb. 27, 2016.
Security video inside and outside the Northern Hotel captured footage of Kipling being assaulted by two people in separate attacks 27 minutes apart.
In both attacks, Kipling fell and struck his head on the pavement, but it was only after the second assault that he was knocked unconscious, Judge Rob Finlayson said.
Kipling was taken to hospital where he died as the result of an acute brain injury.
The assault by Chief resulted in the "the most significant blow to Mr. Kipling's head," Finlayson said, adding there was "strong and convincing medical evidence that the blow led to Mr. Kipling's death."
A doctor testified at trial "it was possible" the first assault caused Kipling's death.
"I am unable to make that finding," Finlayson said. Kipling "struck his head with such force as to render him immediately unconscious."
Hotel security video previously provided to court shows a woman punching Kipling in the head, before a hotel manager escorts her out the door. Minutes later, Kipling was leaving the hotel with a case of beer when the same woman punched him in the head again, causing him to fall and knock his head on the pavement. Kipling was helped to his feet only to be punched by the woman a third time, causing him again to fall and knock his head on the pavement.
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Kipling did not appear to lose consciousness and quickly regained his footing.
Twenty-seven minutes later Kipling was waiting for a taxi when Chief, 24, threw Kipling to the ground, grabbed his case of beer and ran away.
"On the video, the victim's head can be seen to bounce off the pavement, striking the back of his head twice," Crown attorney Geoff Bayly told court at a hearing last month. "It is clear that from the body language on the video that Kipling was not expecting Chief's attack."
Jenna Traverse, arrested for the first attack on Kipling, has been charged with aggravated assault and remains before the court.
Defence lawyer Saul Simmonds argued the brain swelling that ultimately killed Kipling was caused by the Traverse attack. While Kipling may have appeared to shake off the first assaults by Traverse "the issue is not the blow, but the swelling of the brain due to head trauma," Simmonds said.
Bayly said the court "need not determine who is more responsible for the death," only that Chief's actions were a "contributing cause" of Kipling's death.