Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Man gets 15-month conditional sentence for manslaughter

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A Winnipeg man is not going to jail for killing his ex-boyfriend following a dispute outside a downtown nightclub.

Jeffrey James Bear, 33, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Friday and was given a 15-month conditional sentence based on a joint recommendation between Crown and defence lawyers.

Prosecutor Tim Chudy told court the unusual facts of the September 2007 case prompted his department to take the rare step of agreeing that Bear could remain free in the community under certain conditions.

Lyle Walker, 35, died of head trauma several days after he was shoved by Bear as the two men argued outside of Club 200 on Garry Street. Walker had a blood alcohol level of .38 -- nearly five times the legal limit for driving -- and lost his balance and fell backwards, striking his head on the pavement.

A witness called for an ambulance upon seeing Walker down, but cancelled the request moments later when Walker got up and began walking around. Walker later complained of an injury and a second 911 call was placed.

Defence lawyer Saheel Zaman said Walker fell a second time after he wandered away from the hospital triage area and went to a bathroom, collapsing in a stall. The lawyer said it's possible Walker struck his head a second time.

Bear was devastated to learn his former partner had died, the defence lawyer said.

Walker had been drinking heavily inside Club 200 that night. Bear was sober and had come to the club to pick him up, the judge was told.

"They had a bit of a dispute outside," Zaman said. "This was basically an unlawful act manslaughter, with the unlawful act being the push."

New federal sentencing guidelines reject the notion of a conditional sentence for a violent crime like manslaughter, but Bear was exempted because his offence pre-dates the changes.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 20, 2010 B2

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