A senior Crown Attorney with Manitoba Justice appears to be calling the death of Marlon Dean Laronde (Hart) (33) of Winnipeg a justifiable homicide.
On May 18, 2014, at approximately 5:30 pm, members of the Winnipeg Police Service were dispatched to the 1000 block of Notre Dame Avenue regarding the report of an assault.
Upon arrival, Police located Laronde who was suffering from a serious injury.
Laronde was transported to hospital in critical condition and Police initiated an investigation.
The investigation revealed Laronde and a female had been involved in a domestic situation which was witnessed by several bystanders in the area.
One of the bystanders became concerned for the safety of the female and approached the couple to intervene. That intervention resulted in a physical altercation with Laronde who was struck and fell to the ground.
Police indicate the bystander left the scene before their arrival.
On May 23, 2014, Laronde died as a result of his injuries.
Members of the Homicide Unit continued the investigation and subsequently identified the bystander in question.
On May 27, 2014, homicide investigators arrested a forty-five (45) year old man and interrogated him regarding the incident.
The man was subsequently released with no charges pending a thorough review by a Senior Crown with Manitoba Justice.
Police indicate the Crown declined to authorize criminal charges regarding the matter.
Laronde’s death is still considered a homicide and will be included in the annual homicide statistics.
He was the tenth homicide victim of 2014.
In arriving at the decision the Crown has taken the position the “good samaritan” lacked the requisite intent to justify a murder charge.
Similarly, the Crown clearly believed it was not in the public interest to authorize a charge of manslaughter.
Without knowing specifics I find it difficult to criticize the decision.
Manslaughter charges often result in cases where subjects punch the victim once or twice or otherwise use minimal violence.
Cases like these, or cases where good intentioned subjects intervene in domestic violence or other situations may technically call for criminal charges but often end in acquittals or stays of proceedings.
During my tenure in the Homicide Unit I participated in several of these types of investigations;
On August 26, 1995, Marvin Johnson (58) became involved in a domestic dispute when his friend intervened and punched him twice in the face. Johnson died as a result of suffering a subdural hematoma. Johnson’s friend was subsequently charged with Manslaughter. The charge was eventually stayed by the Crown.
On September 24, 2000, William Taylor (42) was punched in the head by a young man after a verbal dispute. Taylor fell to the ground and struck his head on the ground. He subsequently died from his injuries. The offender was charged with Manslaughter. (Disposition of charges not readily available)
On March 14, 2004, Denis Vandal (49) was punched in the head by a security guard at a drinking establishment. Vandal fell to the ground and struck his head on the floor. He subsequently died from his injuries. Glenn Lizchynsky (36) was charged with manslaughter but the charges were eventually dropped by the Crown. (Vandal was the brother of Winnipeg City Councillor Dan Vandal)
On April 14, 2010, Kelly Clay (18) was punched in the head by a bar patron at the Norvilla Hotel. Clay fell to the ground and struck his head on the floor. Jeremy Botelho (23) was charged with manslaughter. A jury subsequently found him not guilty of the charge.
On August 12, 2010, Ernest Dennis Desmarais (40) was involved in a domestic dispute when a twenty-three (23) year old man intervened. Desmarais was killed after suffering injuries in the physical confrontation that ensued. Senior Crown Attorney Brian Bell reviewed the case and declined to authorize charges. Significant evidence existed in the case suggesting Desmarais was killed in self-defense.
(These are only a few of the cases that come to mind. There have been other “one punch” homicides over the last two decades or so.)