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This article was published 9/11/2011 (3599 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
He moved out of Winnipeg to escape the cycle of violence -- only to be beaten to death on his home reserve.
Now a man has taken responsibility for the Jan. 1, 2010 death of Cody Starr, 23, a popular aboriginal artist who was attacked while walking down a road in Little Black River First Nation.
Gerald Abraham, 31, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday. The Crown is seeking up to eight years in prison, while Abraham has requested a much lighter penitentiary sentence.
Queen's Bench Justice Joan McKelvey has reserved her decision until next month.
"I'm remorseful. I'm sorry. I want you to heal. I know you hate me," Abraham told several crying members of Starr's family who packed a Winnipeg courtroom.
Abraham and his girlfriend, Cynthia 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 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 Wednesday how he eventually grew tired of dealing with crime issues in the city and decided to move back to Little Black River, about 140 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. He was the proud father of a five-month-old girl at the time of his death.
"When you beat him you took away everything," his sister, Rhonda Starr, told court. "He was the heart of our family."
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.