Shopkeeper charged in death of shoplifter


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WINNIPEG — The mother of a Winnipeg woman who was allegedly beaten to death by a local shopkeeper said she wanted to see a criminal charge in connection with her death. Thursday, she got her wish.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/05/2010 (4696 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WINNIPEG — The mother of a Winnipeg woman who was allegedly beaten to death by a local shopkeeper said she wanted to see a criminal charge in connection with her death. Thursday, she got her wish.

Winnipeg police announced today Kwang Soo Kim has been charged with manslaughter for the death of Geraldine Beardy. Yesterday, the 62-year-old shopkeeper turned himself into police.

"This is a personal tragedy (for him)," said Evan Roitenberg, the man’s lawyer. His client was released after turning himself into police.

Beardy, 29, died last September after she was allegedly beaten at Okay Groceries at the corner of Sherbrook Street and Alexander Avenue. Police said at the time surveillance video showed the woman shoplifting from the store; friends identified the stolen item as a can of luncheon meat.

Police said Beardy was hit in the upper body with a weapon and fled to a nearby home. She died from her injuries five days later in hospital.

Beardy’s mother Louise Keno said earlier this week she wanted justice for her daughter but she was still wrestling with the death.

"Sometimes, when I get that mad feeling or the angry feeling about him, I told myself, I’m not going to let him go like that," said Keno, who is caring for her daughter’s children in Garden Hill First Nation, 600 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. "He has to be arrested."

Beardy was a mother of two who had serious health issues that forced her to leave the remote reserve. She was in and out of hospital that summer and had started to hang out with some of Winnipeg’s homeless, said David Harper, a friend of the Beardy family and grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents northern reserves in the province.

"She was with two homeless men and … she took that can of Klik for those two people that she was with," Harper said.

"Nobody’s worth dying over a can of Klik."

Kim was also struggling to get by. A Korean immigrant, he trying to make ends meet by running a small, independent convenience store near the Health Sciences Centre. Behind the store counter, Kim was in an industry in which every theft can make a big difference to a very slim profit margin.

"The convenience store business is a penny business. Every customer that comes in leaves a few pennies for us in profit," David Bryans, Canadian Convenience Stores Association, said from Toronto. "We’d probably have to sell 20 chocolate bars to break even on the profit we would have made on a stolen one."

The association offers tips on how its members can deter shoplifting and doesn’t recommend or condone physically confronting thieves. But small family-run stores are unlikely to have the time or money to invest in the best anti-theft measures, Bryans said.

"They don’t have an infrastructure to help them be trained properly … and that’s usually what happens to these new Canadians that come in and open a convenience store, or any store."

Police originally said Kim would face a charge of aggravated assault, but they changed it to manslaughter after consulting Crown attorneys. Kim was released pending his next court appearance.

Police are still seeking a witness — a female customer who is believed to have been in the store at the time.

Kim, who has not entered a plea, was holding up well, said Roitenberg.

"I think he’s doing as well as could be expected. Obviously, he was hoping he wasn’t going to be charged and is not thrilled to be facing such a charge.", with files from The Canadian Press

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