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Man admits to assaulting victim moments before fatal stabbing

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The alcohol was flowing and the fists started flying.

But a young man will not be held liable for the tragic results of a violent New Year’s Eve house party on a Manitoba reserve.

Brandon Bird, 22, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of simple assault for his role in the Jan. 1, 2013 slaying of Peter Bird in Black River First Nation.

The Crown dropped a more serious charge of manslaughter, saying there’s no evidence to suggest Bird’s actions led to the death of the 25-year-old victim, who is not related despite the same last name.

However, Bird admits striking the man twice in the face just moments before he was stabbed in the heart. James Moar, 21, has previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years behind bars.

"This is not a simple case of assault. The tragedy here is that someone died," Crown attorney Liz Laite told court Wednesday at Bird’s sentencing hearing.

Defence lawyer Scott Newman said his client had no clue that Moar was going to pull out a knife and stab the victim to death.

"Brandon Bird’s involvement ended before the stabbing. It was a tragic unforeseen event not connected to my client," said Newman.

"If he had known what road this was going down, that it would end in someone’s death, he never would have got involved."

Bird was given a one-year suspended sentence with probation on Wednesday. The Crown was seeking up to nine months jail, while Newman had asked for a discharge which would have allowed his client to maintain a clear criminal record.

The deadly incident was triggered by a toxic mix of alcohol and drugs at a party on the reserve, located about 150 kilometres north of Winnipeg. All of the participants and witnesses were extremely intoxicated at the time, court was told.

Peter Bird was also drunk and high on drugs, and may have actually initiated the incident by confronting Moar, who lived across the street. At issue was a party he was hosting and what Bird thought was the abusive treatment by Moar of his girlfriend.

Bird actually armed himself with a rusty steel rod, but was punched in the face by Brandon Bird before he was eventually overpowered by the knife-wielding Moar and stabbed to death.

"No one called the police. They took it upon themselves, almost a form of vigilante justice," said Laite. "This is all-too-common now in this province. Drinking parties end up with knives, end up with violence, end up with death."

www.mikeoncrime.com

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