Homicide victim's sister furious about accused killer's past conviction

The sister of a man stabbed to death on a West Broadway street in what police called a random act of violence says her brother's death has left her broken and bewildered.

Man charged in Robert Donaldson's death was sentenced to 12 years in 2009 for manslaughter

Robert Donaldson, 51, died after he was stabbed on Sherbrook Street on Friday. (Submitted by Ryon Aitkenhead)

The sister of a man stabbed to death on a West Broadway street, in what police called a random act of violence, says her brother's death has left her broken and bewildered.

"I don't think we'll ever understand it, and that's the worst part," Ryon Aitkenhead said.

Robert Christian Donaldson, 51, died after being stabbed near the intersection of Sherbrook Street and Sara Avenue around 8:45 p.m. Friday evening.

Aitkenhead doesn't know what led to the stabbing. Police have said when officers arrived, a number of people were trying to fend off an aggressive man with a knife.

"[My brother] was not a violent person. In fact, if there was violence he would shy away from it, because he didn't want to get involved. So I don't know what the hell happened, and I don't know how he ended up dying," she said.

Rodney Byron Williams, 34, the man charged with second-degree murder in Donaldson's death, has a 2009 conviction for manslaughter, the Winnipeg Police Service confirmed. He received a 12-year prison sentence.

The fact that the man charged had a prior conviction for killing someone "infuriates" Aitkenhead, she said.

"What is going on in our judicial system?" she said.

The charges against Williams have not been proven in court.

Father of 5

Donaldson's death has affected not only his family but the wider community, Aitkenhead said. He had five children — the oldest is 22 and the youngest is younger than two — and owned a landscaping and snow removal business.

Donaldson, seen here standing in the back third from the right, leaves behind a large family, including five children. (Submitted by Ryon Aitkenhead)

She described her brother as "the life of the party" and said he helped to take care of their parents.

"I was talking to a bunch of his hockey buddies, like from when I was little. They're still friends and they're just devastated," she said.

"They're talking about how he'd have this funny laugh that he'd always do, and just his voice is so recognizable to them."

Winnipeg police said they responded to a report of a fight involving several men near Sherbrook Street and Sara Avenue at about 8:45 p.m. Friday.

When they arrived, officers found a number of people trying to fend off an aggressive man with a knife, police spokesperson Const. Rob Carver said Saturday. 

Donaldson's death is the 22nd homicide in Winnipeg in 2019.

About the Author

Cameron MacLean

Web Writer

Cameron MacLean is a journalist living in Winnipeg, Man. where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience covering news in the city and across the province, working in print, radio, television and online.


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