Manitoba

Osborne killer gets life sentence

A Winnipeg man who brutally murdered the brother of a woman whose own killing sparked a comprehensive review of Manitoba's justice system has been handed a life sentence in prison
Helen Betty Osborne was the sister of Kelvin Osborne. ((Amnesty.ca))
A Winnipeg man who brutally murdered the brother of a woman whose own killing sparked a comprehensive review of Manitoba's justice system has been handed a life sentence in prison.

Morris Richard McConnell, 59, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in connection to the grisly stabbing and beating death of Kelvin John Osborne, 42, in a low-rent West Broadway-area apartment in March 2008.

Osborne, a gay man who was known on the street by the name Rose, was killed after going with McConnell to his apartment. There, Osborne propositioned McConnell for sex.

McConnell responded by stabbing him with a knife and beating him with a hammer, according to facts of the case read in court by Crown attorney Scott Cooper.

Osborne suffered numerous injuries and had his throat slit.

Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice Glenn Joyal said the killing should be singled out for its "gruesome brutality."

"The act itself is so vicious and so purposeful that it really defies rational explanation," Joyal said.

Joyal agreed to a plea deal between the Crown and McConnell's lawyer. The sentence means McConnell will not be eligible for parole until 10 years have passed from the date of his arrest on Mar. 26, 2008.

Court heard that the Crown didn't believe the killing should be classified as a hate crime but instead one where McConnell's sexual confusion led him to react in anger at being propositioned.

"His own [sexual] orientation issues may have put him in a position where this event occurred," Cooper told Joyal. "This was an act that was committed as a result of self-loathing."

McConnell told police he had no real memory of what happened to Osborne.

"He does remember hitting him with the hammer and seeing a lot of red," Cooper said.

The crime was discovered after McConnell went to another apartment in the block and told a witness, "I think I've done something bad," Cooper said.

Sister of victim raped, killed

McConnell, a former member of the Canadian Navy, apologized to the court for his actions.

"I am unbelievably upset with myself over this whole incident," he said. "I apologize to the Osborne family for the grief that I've caused."

The Osbornes are no strangers to grief.

Kelvin Osborne was the brother of Helen Betty Osborne, a 19-year-old Norway House woman who was was abducted off the street of The Pas, Man., in November 1971.

She was sexually assaulted and stabbed more than 50 times before being left in the bush outside the northern Manitoba city.

Sixteen years later, four men were charged with the killing. One man, Dwayne Archie Johnston, was convicted of second-degree murder. He was released after serving 10 years of a life sentence.

The case eventually led to a review of Manitoba's justice system and its treatment of aboriginal people.

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