Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Woman sentenced in artist's death

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A Manitoba woman has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for her role in the beating death of a popular aboriginal artist.

Cynthia Sinclair pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year for the Jan. 1, 2010, attack at Little Black River First Nation. She returned to court on Tuesday for sentencing. The Crown was seeking four years behind bars, while her lawyer argued no further time in custody was necessary.

Cody Starr, 23, had been walking down a road when he was attacked. Sinclair's boyfriend, Gerald Abraham, was previously sentenced to five years behind bars after admitting to causing the majority of the injuries.

Abraham and Sinclair told police they were out for a walk just after midnight when they saw a stranger urinating at the side of the road. They claim the man "charged" at them, accusing them of trying to jump him. Abraham said they responded by punching him several times and knocking him to the ground, where they delivered a couple of kicks before fleeing.

Both claim Starr was alive and moving when they left him.

"I was defending my partner from this guy. I didn't know who he was," Abraham said in court. An autopsy revealed Starr died of blunt-force trauma.

In October 2005, Starr was championed by the United Way for leaving a life of criminal activity and gang membership to express himself in art.

"I was just tired of it; it was a full-time job with those people," Starr told the Free Press at the time. In 2007, Starr was commissioned to paint a mural on the side of the MacDonald Youth Services building on Mayfair Avenue.

Family members told court Starr grew tired of dealing with crime in the city and moved back to Little Black River, about 140 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. He was the father of an infant daughter at the time of his death.

 

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 15, 2012 B2

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Updated on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM CDT: Adds image

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