Saskatoon

Second man pleads guilty to manslaughter for 2017 jail assault that killed Cornell Henry

Nathan Ermine's lawyer says his client is "very remorseful" for the death of Cornell Henry. 

Henry died in hospital after being assaulted while in jail in Oct. 2017

Nathan Ermine has pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge in connection to a October 2017 death of Cornell Henry at Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench on Nov. 4, 2019. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Nathan Ermine's lawyer says his client is "very remorseful" for the death of Cornell Henry. 

Ermine pleaded guilty Monday at Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench to a manslaughter charge stemming from the death of Henry, who was assaulted by two inmates at the Saskatoon jail in October 2017 and died later in hospital from his injuries.

Ermine is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday.

A trial for Ermine was set to start on Monday, but the guilty plea means the matter will go straight to sentencing. When asked if he had any remarks for the public or media following Monday's proceeding, Ermine said he did not.

Michael Nolan, Ermine's defence attorney, said he wouldn't get into specifics about the instructions he received from his client, but that Ermine is "very remorseful."

"Not putting the victim's family through long, drawn-out proceedings is a factor that always comes to play in these proceedings, because no one wants to re-traumatize victim's families."

Henry's father was present at court on Monday, but said he'd like to wait until after the sentencing before potentially giving a statement. 

Raven Don Constant, the second man charged in the death, was on remand alongside Ermine, awaiting trial on other violent attacks, when they were charged in Henry's death.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2018 and was sentenced to 12 years behind bars.

Nathan Ermine is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Crown prosecutor Carla Dewar said the process has been tough for Cornell's family. Saturday marked two years since they had to take the man off of life-support.

"It's been a long process for them, the fact that there is an acknowledgement now that he was responsible for what happened will hopefully provide them some closure and, hopefully, they can move on," she said. 

The Crown and defence plan to submit a joint submission during sentencing on Wednesday, at which time two other charges Ermine is facing — one stemming from an alleged robbery with aggravated assault and the other from an alleged assault on an inmate — will also be dealt with.
 
Dewar said it's likely Ermine is looking at a "substantial penitentiary term," but said the final decision will rest with the courts.

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