Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Guilty pleas in beating death

Booze, pills, money factors in fatal attack

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Two Sagkeeng First Nation men have pleaded guilty to manslaughter for brutally beating a man to death in an argument over money.

Eugene Fontaine, 41, was pronounced dead by paramedics inside a garden shed behind a home on the First Nation early on Oct. 31, 2011. He had suffered major physical injuries and died from bleeding on the brain from the blunt-force trauma.

Nicholas Abraham, 25, and Jonathon Starr, 32, were arrested by RCMP at the scene.

The men each admitted their responsibility during a Winnipeg court hearing on Monday.

Crown prosecutors accepted their manslaughter pleas in full answer to charges of second-degree murder.

The men and Fontaine had been drinking and taking Tylenol 3 pills the night before when an argument erupted over money, Crown attorney Michael Himmelman said.

"The co-accused beat, kicked and stomped the deceased for a lengthy period," Himmelman said. The beating first started in the home then moved to a deck, court heard.

Fontaine was tied up and dragged to the shed. He was left there for several hours, and he died, said Himmelman. Emergency responders found him loosely covered in blankets, he added.

RCMP noticed the blood on the deck, which appeared to have been mopped up. Abraham's hoodie, pants and shoes were also stained with blood, said Himmelman.

DNA testing revealed the blood was Fontaine's. A partial footwear impression taken from Fontaine's body matched Starr's shoes, Justice Brenda Keyser was told.

Sentencing was put off until later this year. Abraham indicated he had little recollection of what happened, but he and Starr agreed they were parties to the fatal assault.

Sagkeeng is about 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 27, 2014 A6

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