Grisly new details have emerged about the alleged criminal conduct of Jesse Jordan Gamblin in the months leading up to the slaying of Norma Andrews, a mother of three he’s charged with killing on Sept. 21.
On March 13, roughly six months before Andrews' death, Gamblin was charged in a vicious machete attack on a female friend as she slept. Police say the assault, which left the woman needing significant medical attention, was unprovoked.
Crown prosecutors say Gamblin — who is known to be unemployed, homeless and a drug addict — was high on methamphetamine when he picked up a machete and began hacking away at a friend who’d at times offered him refuge from the streets.
The details of the case were recounted at a May 7 provincial court bail hearing in Winnipeg. No publication ban was requested by Gamblin’s defence attorney.
"For reasons unknown, (Gamblin) produced a large machete and he attended to the bedroom where (the victim) was sleeping. He then began an unprovoked assault and attacked (the victim) with the machete," the Crown attorney said.
"She began to scream. He continued to attack her."
The assault ended only after the victim escaped by crawling through a broken bedroom window. She was left with 10 stab wounds on her chest, torso, hands and pelvis, requiring 20 staples and five stitches.
The allegations against Gamblin, 20, have not been proven in court.
The Crown attorney said Gamblin had an "extremely violent record" and his latest charges included "more violence." As a result, he was opposed to Gamblin's release from custody.
Gamblin’s defence attorney countered that his client denied carrying out the attack and — in fact — claimed to have been assaulted. He said Gamblin had been arrested with cuts on his hands consistent with defence wounds.
He further cited Gamblin’s struggle with addiction in arguing for him to be released to the Behavioural Health Foundation, a long-term residential program for people with addictions and co-occurring mental-health disorders.
That was opposed by the Crown, who pointed out the BHF is not a locked facility. Once again, he cited Gamblin’s "horrible record of violence."
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The judge ultimately ordered Gamblin released to the BHF under a series of conditions. Gamblin’s father was also ordered to serve as a surety and to put up $1,000.
The March 13 aggravated assault charge wasn’t Gamblin’s first run-in with the law in 2019.
He’s alleged to have attempted to steal from a North End pawn shop on Feb. 7. Police say his theft attempt failed and he threw a home stereo system at an employee.
He was charged with assault with a weapon and theft under $5,000. He was released on a promise to appear in court.
In addition to the two assault charges, Gamblin was also twice charged with breach of court orders. And he was charged with firearms offences in May 2017.
On Monday, Karen Wiebe, the executive director of the Manitoba Organization for Victim Assistance, said it is "inconceivable" Gamblin was still walking free at the time of Andrews’ death.
"How does this happen? He shouldn’t have been on the street," Wiebe said.
Gamblin is accused of killing Andrews — originally from Manto Sipi Cree Nation — on the 500 block of Balmoral Street on Sept. 21. It marked Winnipeg’s 29th homicide of 2019. In total, there have been 30 slayings to date this year.
It is not the first time in recent memory an alleged killer has racked up violent criminal charges in the leadup to allegedly committing murder.
In October 2018, Kane Moar was released from prison after serving two-thirds of an aggravated assault sentence. That was despite the fact Moar was set to be charged with the slaying of a fellow Stony Mountain Institution inmate.
However, that wasn’t enough to stop Moar’s statutory release from being processed so he could serve the rest of his sentence in the community. Soon after, Moar breached his court-ordered conditions, went on the run and allegedly murdered Ricardo Hibi a week before Christmas 2018.
The allegation against Moar has not been proven in court.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
Updated on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 7:11 PM CDT: Adds related story.