3rd person accused in 2017 beating, stabbing death 'accepting responsibility' with guilty plea: defence

Joshua Leclerc, 21, pleaded guilty this week to manslaughter in the 2017 death of Canon Beardy. Two others previously pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder and received the maximum youth sentence of seven years.

7-year sentence for Joshua Leclerc; 2 youths previously pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder in killing

Canon Franklin Beardy was found injured at a home on Magnus Avenue, between Powers and Andrews streets, on Feb. 6, 2017. He was rushed to hospital but died. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The third and final person convicted in connection with the attack that left 28-year-old Canon Franklin Beardy dead will spend the next 66 months in prison.

Joshua Leclerc, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Tuesday for his part in the stabbing and beating death of Beardy, 28. He was initially charged with second-degree murder and pleaded not guilty to that more severe offence.

Leclerc verbally confronted Beardy in the basement of a Magnus Avenue duplex in Winnipeg's North End on Feb. 6, 2017. Several other people were present; some jumped in and Beardy was beaten and stabbed.

One witness saw him staggering upstairs clutching his stomach and groaning shortly before emergency crews arrived, court heard.

"He collapsed on the front sidewalk," and later died, Crown attorney Erika Dolcetti told court.

On Wednesday, Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Vic Toews sentenced Leclerc to seven years based on a joint recommendation from Dolcetti and Leclerc's defence lawyer, Laura Robson.

With credit for time served, Leclerc will spend another 5½ years in a federal penitentiary, court heard.

A loved one approached him and said "I love you" before sheriffs escorted Leclerc out of court.

He believed this individual had shot at his residence when his young daughter was present.- Defence lawyer Laura Robson

Two teens previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Beardy's death. Both received the maximum youth sentence of seven years, and neither can be identified as they were under 18 at the time.

Another teen originally charged with second-degree murder was cleared of that offence as new details came to light in the investigation, Dolcetti said outside court. That accused was instead convicted and served a sentence for assaulting someone who was near Beardy at the time he was killed, Dolcetti added.

What led to confrontation

Court heard Leclerc and a group of others went to the Magnus Avenue home to hang out that day in February 2017 and learned Beardy was there.

Leclerc believed Beardy went by the street name "Frankie" and had "brought guns around his house" months earlier, while Leclerc and his young child were home, Dolcetti told court.

Joshua Leclerc, 21, was sentenced to seven years in prison Wednesday. (Winnipeg Police Service)

"He believed this individual had shot at his residence when his young daughter was present," Robson said. That allegation was not proven during the course of the sentencing.

Leclerc and one of the teens went downstairs and confronted Beardy, who denied bringing guns around and said his name wasn't Frankie, Dolcetti said. 

Things escalated between Leclerc and Beardy. Leclerc said "that's the guy" and the first of three youths got involved in the attack, stabbing Beardy with a four-inch blade, Dolcetti said.

Two other teenagers entered the room. One started beating Beardy a baseball bat and the other stabbed Beardy with a machete, court heard. 

Someone who happened to be in the basement was also stabbed and hit with the bat but survived, Dolcetti said.

Robson said Leclerc did not take part in the assault.

Mom misled police

Court heard the group took off and Beardy died of massive blood loss from his stab wounds.

Police found a bloodied bat and machete underneath a neighbouring backyard deck.

One of the first teens arrested said he saw Leclerc stab Beardy, but as the investigation evolved police determined that wasn't the case.

Hopefully … what you do with your own life, going forward, will make up for the shortcomings that were demonstrated on the day that this happened.- Justice Vic Toews

When police went to Leclerc's home, his mother lied to officers, telling them Leclerc and other suspects weren't home, Dolcetti said. Leclerc washed one of the bloody knives after the police left, and his mother gave the weapon to a family friend to dispose of, court heard.

One of the teens was picked up and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last December. Four years of his seven-year maximum youth sentence was to be served behind bars; the other three will be served while supervised in the community.

A second teen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was given the same seven-year sentence this this past May.

'Accepting responsibility'

There was a search warrant out for Leclerc for three months before police arrested him last year.

He had been in custody for more than 560 days when he was sentenced for manslaughter Wednesday.

Leclerc also has about one year left to serve for a drug trafficking charge that predates the manslaughter offence, court heard.

Robson argued Leclerc has expressed remorse and is sorry for the role he played in the death of Beardy, evidenced by the fact his guilty plea prevented the case from going to trial.

"This is an individual stepping up and accepting responsibility," Robson said.

In addition to counselling he continues to attend in custody, Leclerc also has two young children and is taking part in a parenting program in prison, Robson said.

"I know there's nothing we can do here today to bring back the deceased, but hopefully … what you do with your own life, going forward, will make up for the shortcomings that were demonstrated on the day that this happened," Justice Toews told Leclerc.

About the Author

Bryce Hoye

Reporter

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology. Before joining CBC Manitoba, he worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service monitoring birds in Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Alberta. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.