Barbara Kentner: Brayden Bushby found guilty in death of indigenous woman

Image source, Melissa Kentner / Facebook
Image caption,
Melissa Kentner and Barbara Kentner (right)

A Canadian court has ruled that a man who threw a trailer hitch at an indigenous woman in 2017, leading to her death, is guilty of manslaughter.

Brayden Bushby, then 18, threw the metal hitch from his vehicle, which struck Barbara Kentner, 34, in the abdomen and led to internal injuries.

Bushby had earlier pleaded not guilty to manslaughter but guilty to aggravated assault.

He faces a maximum of life in prison and will be sentenced in February.

Thunder Bay Superior Court judge Helen Pierce said on Monday that it was proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Bushby's action "was a contributing cause of her death that is not trivial or insignificant and which accelerated her death", CBC News reported.

"This was not a snowball."

The attack occurred on the morning of 29 January 2017 in a Thunder Bay, Ontario, neighbourhood.

Ms Kentner, an Anishinaabe woman, was walking down the street with her sister when she was struck by the hitch.

Both women reported hearing someone say: "Oh, I got one."

Ms Kentner was taken to hospital, requiring surgery for a small bowel rupture. After suffering for months from damage to her organs, she died on 4 July.

In a statement given to police in 2017, Ms Kentner had said she was hit across the stomach and could not breathe, Thunder Bay News Watch reported.

"I fell to my knees and I looked at the car and seen some guy put his head out the window," she told police.

Bushby was arrested and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, admitting to throwing the hitch from his vehicle.

He was initially charged with murder, but this was downgraded to manslaughter in September.

His defence lawyer had argued that Ms Kentner had pre-existing conditions that led to her death. During the four-day trial last month, a forensic pathologist testified that Ms Kentner's death was mainly caused by injuries from the attack.

Indigenous leaders had called for the incident to be treated as a hate crime.

Thunder Bay is a city of about 100,000. In 2011, 10% of the city's population had Aboriginal identity, compared to about 4% across the country.

Ms Kentner's death is not the first to strike the community. A two-year independent watchdog review of how indigenous cases were handled found systemic racism within the Thunder Bay police department.

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