MELANIE Gray said she huddled in a second-floor bedroom with her sister-in-law and niece on the afternoon of June 16 and watched out the window as her husband, Marlin Gray, was struck with a bat and pipe before suffering a fatal blow that knocked him down.
Marlin Gray, 36, never regained consciousness and died two days later, lying in a hospital bed with Melanie, their six-year-old daughter Melody and other family members at his side.
"He died 2:30 Monday morning. I watched him take his last breath," Melanie Gray said.
Melanie Gray said she doesn't even know what led to the fatal confrontation in the courtyard of a Manitoba Housing complex off Fife Street in the Maples.
The couple were inside his sister's unit when arguments were heard in the courtyard, she said. Marlin's older brother, David, had gotten into a dispute with a resident in the complex and it spilled outside. Marlin had gone outside to see what it was all about.
"Dave would start arguments and fights and expect his baby brother to back him up," Melanie said. "Each time he got into some kind of conflict, my husband had to go and try to smooth things out."
But that afternoon, she said, the dispute got turned around and focused on Marlin, who suffered a critical head injury when knocked to the ground.
Marlin's sister cried out she was calling 911 and the crowd in the courtyard ran off, Melanie said. She ran outside and helped carry Marlin back into his sister's place. He was bleeding from the back of his head.
Marlin was placed on life-support and doctors told her he had a slim chance of recovering or having a normal life again if he did regain consciousness.
"We all agreed we didn't want him to suffer like that," Melanie said. So Marlin was taken off life-support.
Two days after Marlin Gray died, Winnipeg police issued an arrest warrant on the charge of manslaughter for Abraham Marcel Steve Lagimodiere, 25. He has yet to be caught.
A traditional aboriginal wake was held for Marlin the following Saturday, June 23, at the Swan Lake First Nation, where he lived with his family -- Melanie, and their three children, Bob, 17, Noah, 11, and Melody, 6. He was buried the next day.
Marlin Gray was born in The Pas, a member of the Crane River (O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi) First Nation, and moved to Swan Lake when he was 15. The couple had been together for 19 years and married for almost nine years.
The past two weeks have been difficult for Melanie and her young family. She said she spends most of the day crying. Melody needs to sleep with her. Noah, the middle child, avoids people. Bob puts up a front of strength.
She begins each morning with the same ritual. "I say, 'Good morning, babe, love you, please watch over us and our kids.'
"My daughter knows her dad is gone and up in heaven with God. Every night before we go to bed she says, 'Mommy, let's say a prayer to Daddy.' "
Marlin was unemployed but he enjoyed spending his free time making aboriginal crafts like dream catchers and staffs.
"He was very helpful and very creative and loved us very much," Melanie said. "He was very loving and caring.
"I remember him always trying to protect us from everything and anything."