A Winnipeg woman has been sentenced to eight years in prison for killing her mother in a case stained by years of neglect and abuse.
Hailey Barker, 20, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the May 28, 2018, stabbing death of 36-year-old Christine Barker.
"It’s a very sad set of circumstances," Justice Chris Martin said at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday. "As I understand it, the ingredients leading to what boiled over on this day had been in place since (Hailey) was born... There is no doubt in my mind the deceased probably also suffered in some certain respects the same sort of history that would lead her to the circumstances she was in."
Court was told that Hailey, then 18, was living at her grandmother’s home on Beaumont Bay when Christine went to the house. During an argument, Hailey grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her mother once in the chest.
Christine was taken to Health Sciences Centre and was pronounced dead a short time later.
Arrested a week later, Hailey told police Christine had assaulted her and was armed with a knife when she stabbed Christine in self-defence. When confronted with discrepancies in the evidence, Hailey admitted Christine was unarmed, while maintaining she had assaulted her.
Hailey was originally charged with second-degree murder, but in a plea bargain, she admitted guilt to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
"Issues of self-defence and provocation were still in play," Crown attorney Mark Kantor said, adding a conviction for manslaughter was "a very real possibility" had the case gone to trial.
Hailey was placed in a foster home at age six after years of neglect and abuse while in her mother’s care, defence lawyer Leonard Tailleur said.
When she was just three months old, anonymous calls were placed to child-welfare authorities, alleging Christine was frequently drunk and leaving Hailey with "intoxicated, inappropriate caregivers," Tailleur said.
On her first birthday, police found Hailey abandoned on Manitoba Avenue with a bottle of milk and four dirty diapers.
In the years before Hailey was put in foster care, child-welfare authorities would receive more complaints of neglect, including reports Christine allowed their home to be used by prostitutes. When taken into care, Hailey’s foster mother reported the child’s body was marked with bruises and cigarette burns.
Hailey "often wondered why Christine treated her the way she did as a child," Tailleur said.
Martin said the "very unique" circumstances of the case point to a sentence that addresses rehabilitation over denunciation and deterrence.
"It is certainly a tragedy, but this doesn’t have to be the end for her," Tailleur said. "She can go forward."
Hailey received credit for time served, reducing her sentence to 6½ years.
Updated on Friday, October 18, 2019 at 6:14 AM CDT: Adds photo
7:28 AM: Changes photo