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This article was published 14/2/2020 (492 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A WINNIPEG woman has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for the beating death of a longtime North End businessman.
Myra Bird, 37, pleaded guilty Wednesday to manslaughter in the January 2018 killing of 77-year-old Hossein Lotfi.
Lotfi, along with his late wife Bibi, had owned and operated Joy Beauty Salon on Main Street until it closed in 2014.
Bird has multiple prior convictions for assault, robbery and theft.
"This is a very significant sentence for a conviction of manslaughter, but… it adequately balances the fact that Ms. Bird comes before the court with what can only be described as an extremely violent record," said Queen’s Bench Justice Brenda Keyser.
According to an agreed statement of facts provided to court, Bird and another woman, a longtime casual friend of Lotfi’s, had been drinking and listening to music at the man’s home when Lotfi "made unwanted sexual advances toward (Bird)."
Bird, who had also been smoking methamphetamine, grabbed the much smaller Lotfi by the throat, took him to the floor on his stomach and beat him about the head with a vodka bottle. Bird tied Lotfi’s hands and feet together with an electrical cord.
The cause of death was "consistent with asphyxiation that was a consequence of compression of the neck."
Bird stole Lotfi’s wallet and the two women left the house in Lotfi’s 2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer. Over the next day, Bird, an adult male friend and two youth used Lotfi’s bank card to purchase convenience store items, lottery tickets and shoes.
Three days later, police pulled over two women driving Lotfi’s vehicle. When they couldn’t explain how they came to be in possession of it, officers visited Lotfi’s home and found his body.
"He was a very generous person who would help anyone in need," Lotfi’s niece told court in a victim-impact statement. "My family lives everyday with a huge hole in or hearts."
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman had presented Lotfi with the Mayor’s BIZ Award in 2015.
"Mr. Lotfi was recognized as a leader and an individual who worked hard to make his community a better place," Bowman said in a statement following Lotfi’s 2018 death.
Bird was originally charged with second-degree murder, but agreed to admit to the lesser charge of manslaughter in a plea deal with the Crown.
Had the case gone to trial, it would have been open to Bird to argue self-defence, provocation or intoxication, said defence lawyer Ted Mariash.
Bird had a "horrific" upbringing by an abusive mother and became a permanent ward of Child and Family Services at age seven, Mariash said. Bird was a frequent runaway and began abusing drugs and alcohol before she was 12, the lawyer said.
"Addictions and violence have been risk factors since she was a teenager," Mariash said.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.