Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Killing brother may net prison

Crown wants up to 8 years in Thanksgiving manslaughter

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A young Winnipeg man with no criminal history should go to prison for up to eight years for the alcohol-fuelled fatal stabbing of his older brother at a Thanksgiving dinner, a Manitoba prosecutor argued Wednesday.

Justin Larche, 23, previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Christopher Larche, 25, at a River Heights home early on Oct. 8, 2012.

The holiday gathering was peaceful until the victim began speaking rudely to his girlfriend and his younger brother tried to stop it, provincial court Judge Mary Kate Harvie was told.

"The accused felt his brother was being aggressive in the way he was talking... he decided to step in," Crown attorney Carrie Ritchot said.

Both men had been drinking a fair amount of beer that night, court heard.

The brothers pushed and wrestled several times, prompting others to step in to break it up. Eventually, the dispute moved into the kitchen.

There, Christopher advanced towards Justin, prompting Justin to grab a steak knife off a dish rack and quickly stab him twice in the torso, Ritchot said.

Realizing what he'd done, Justin helped his brother to the front lawn and tried to stop the bleeding as 911 was called.

Christopher died hours later in hospital, having suffered major wounds to his lung, liver and diaphragm that caused massive internal bleeding, Ritchot said.

The Crown acknowledged Justin Larche is remorseful, had no intention to kill and made a full admission to police of what he did.

"He loved his brother and says his conscience is hurting all the time," Ritchot said, quoting a pre-sentence report.

He has no prior criminal record. Ritchot said she was asking for a sentence of between five and eight years in hopes of the court sending a message that grabbing a weapon and lashing out with it in a shoving match has stern consequences.

"This is an individual who drank too much, got into an argument with his brother and pulled a knife," she said.

Defence lawyer Martin Minuk asked Harvie to impose no more than 30 months, with credit for 10 months Larche has already served, in hopes of keeping him in the provincial jail system instead of a federal prison.

Sentences for manslaughter range greatly, depending on the circumstances of each case and the moral culpability of the offender. The maximum is life in prison. There is no minimum penalty.

Minuk pointed to Larche's remorse and crime-free life for 22 years despite a limited education. Larche has pro-social goals of working, buying a house and getting married one day, Minuk said.

"I deserve jail time for my brother's sake, so it brings justice in a way," Larche told a probation officer. In court Wednesday, his mother nodded as he apologized to her face for the "pain I've caused."

Harvie reserved her decision to Oct. 8.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 5, 2013 B1

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