A young Winnipeg man who was cleared just weeks ago of a murder charge in the stabbing death of a city teen is now a suspect in a grisly stabbing on Main Street.
Police identified Steven Raymond Johnston, 20, Wednesday as a person they're seeking in connection with an outbreak of violence that saw men aged 25, 26 and 29 knifed and left with upper body wounds on March 26.
The three victims knew each other and were treated in hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
It appears Johnston and the men got in a verbal dispute inside a 7-Eleven store in the 1300 block of Main Street which then spilled outside and turned violent, according to police.
The 26-year-old victim made his way to Machray Avenue and Charles Street where police found him injured.
The incident doesn't appear to be motivated either by gang retribution or robbery, police said.
Johnston was freed from jail Jan. 20 after being acquitted of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of Clarky Stevenson, 15, early on Sept. 10, 2011.
The Crown had alleged Johnston sprung up from behind and attacked Stevenson in an early morning, gang-tinged confrontation sparked by Stevenson near Boyd Avenue and Aikins Street.
Justice Colleen Suche took the case from the hands of a trial jury after ruling for the defence no evidence was presented that Johnston had a knife or got his hands on one to fatally stab Stevenson.
According to an eyewitness, Stevenson stopped some of Johnson’s friends in the street while shouting gang slogans and indicated he had a gun. After a few moments of back and forth jabbering, the witness said he saw Johnston come up from behind, put Stevenson in a headlock and deliver a series of "uppercuts" the Crown alleged were actually stabs, not punches.
As the two grappled against a fence, a youth co-accused came up with a knife and slashed at Stevenson, the witness said. At no time did the witness place a knife in Johnston’s hands.
Suche ruled there was some evidence to support a charge of assault. The Crown elected not to proceed on the assault charge and the case fully collapsed. The co-accused was due to go on trial this month but the hearing was delayed.
Johnston spent 28 months behind bars awaiting trial.
Police said Wednesday they're also seeking to locate an 18-year-old woman — a friend of Johnston's — for breaching probation.
Anyone with information about how to find Johnston is asked to contact investigators at (204)986-2848 or Crime Stoppers at (204)786-TIPS (8477).