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This article was published 12/8/2010 (4131 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It was a street fight with fatal consequences.
Family members of Ernest Dennis Desmarais, 40, said a West End argument led to his bloody death early Thursday morning.
Rita Desmarais said her son was hurt only steps away from the front door of her McGee Street home, near Wellington Avenue.
However, the girlfriend of the man who fought with Desmarais said her boyfriend acted in self-defence.
She said Desmarais was drunk and rowdy outside her nearby apartment at about 3 a.m. when she heard him threaten her boyfriend. "My boyfriend had to punch him a couple times in the head, in the face," said the 21-year-old mother of a young child, who did not want her name published.
The woman said Desmarais was fatally injured after he was knocked down in the fight and hit his head on the concrete.
She said Desmarais lay on the ground mumbling that he felt sick after she called police and an ambulance. She said she was sad to hear he died after being taken to hospital.
"It happened so fast," she said, adding she didn't know if police were going to charge her boyfriend in connection with the death.
"I'm just praying and hoping he's not going to be charged," she said. She said her boyfriend isn't a "killer," and co-operated with police in their investigation. "He was just trying to protect his family."
Police did not release any information on the death Thursday, but homicide unit investigators were in the neighbourhood interviewing a nearby resident on Maryland Street.
Desmarais's mother said she heard a commotion outside her home of 20 years at about 2:30 or 3 a.m. Thursday, but did not get up to see what caused it.
Rita Desmarais said she was told her son died of blunt-force trauma to his head, but she wasn't sure how he was injured. She sat in the midday heat wiping her eyes and pointing with pride to photos of her son while her daughters sat next to her.
They said Desmarais was the father of four sons ages two to 18.
"It's so hard," said Rita Desmarais, who described her son as a "happy-go-lucky" man who lived on nearby Toronto Street.
"I always was telling him, 'Don't be walking around late at night.' "
Desmarais had a history in the court system, including a conviction for assault with a weapon in December 2005, but family members said he was not involved with gangs.
Thursday afternoon, forensic officers walked around a home north of the Desmarais family's property. On the pavement in front of that house, blood spatters and a white porcelain bowl filled with blood were on the concrete, with chalk outlines around them.
A friend of the Desmarais family said they were shocked by the death.
"That's what's so devastating about it, is he really didn't deserve this at all," said Florence Sutton, a family friend, who said Desmarais was well-known in the neighbourhood. "We're very unclear what really happened."
Family and friends said the neighbour allegedly involved in Desmarais' death moved into the apartment complex last month.