St. Theresa Point First Nation man convicted of manslaughter in 'monstrous beating' of his wife
Jonathan Wood originally charged with 2nd-degree murder in 2018 death of Kathleen Wood
A man from St. Theresa Point has been found guilty of manslaughter in the death of his wife, in what the judge called an "exceptionally monstrous beating".
Jonathan Wood was charged when his wife, Kathleen, died in January 2018 after a house party on the First Nation, about 500 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
The 35-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries to her head, torso, extremities and organs, forensic evidence showed. Many bones were broken, including all of her ribs.
"At minimum she suffered well over a dozen blows from fists or feet, many very forceful," said Court of Queen's Bench Justice Chris Martin in his decision Thursday.
Court heard people at the party were consuming intoxicants, which included inhaling crushed percocets, smoking marijuana, and drinking a homemade drink referred to as "super juice," some of which was contained in a 30-litre pail.
One witness described Jonathan Wood as "really, really drunk," and said he "gets aggressive" when he's drunk.
Court heard the couple had an argument during the party, which later led to the fatal assault.
The intoxication was a factor in the judge's decision to convict Wood of manslaughter rather than the charge of second-degree murder. Martin said he must be sure the accused had a murderous intent in order to be found guilty of murder.
"Jonathan's intoxication as described, and the comments he spontaneously made in the heat of the moment during or immediately after the assault, serve as some insight into his thinking or intent when he beat Kathleen," Martin said in the Winnipeg courtroom Thursday.
"The onus is on the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jonathan intended to inflict injuries on Kathleen that he knew would likely cause her death," the judge said.
"His intoxication and comments together raise a competing reasonable inference that he did not mean to kill Kathleen."
Reasonable doubt as to intent
The judge concluded that while there was no doubt Wood severely beat his wife, there was a reasonable doubt as to whether the man "had the intent to cause her bodily harm that he subjectively knew was so serious and dangerous that it would likely kill her."
"As for any accused, despite how grotesque the beating was, Jonathan is entitled to the benefit of a reasonable doubt. I therefore find Jonathan Wood not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter in the death of his wife, Kathleen Wood," he told court.
Wood had a history of violence against his wife, which included convictions in 2013 and 2016. Despite that, the couple, who had four kids, stayed together.
He was court-ordered not to have contact with Kathleen when he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The timing and location for sentencing will be discussed at the next court date on April 8.
Crown attorney Danielle Simard told court the community of St. Theresa Point is interested in holding the sentencing hearing in the community rather than in Winnipeg.
Although the defence did not support that, Justice Martin said he is open to the idea.
With files from Caroline Barghout