I’m not sure who it was that coined the phrase, “You can’t put a price on a human life,” but whoever it was, they were dead wrong.
You can definitely put a price on a human life in Manitoba. The value of Natasha Linda Moar’s (21) life equated to a five (5) year prison sentence. Moar was killed by her common law husband Leslie Grant McDonald (27) in what crime reporter James Turner called a “disturbing domestic violence case exposing the tragic interplay between spousal and substance abuse.”
The story made me wonder if the Canadian Justice System is high on crack.
McDonald plead guilty to manslaughter in a Dauphin court on Monday based on a joint Crown / Defense recommendation for a five-year prison term, a deal that was blessed by Justice Robert Cummings. When you factor in the impact of Statutory release, McDonald will be incarcerated for just over three (3) years. That’s right, three (3) years in jail for the brutal killing of a young woman.
Moar was killed on July 12, 2009 after she was found unresponsive in her father’s suite in an old folks home in Crane River, Manitoba. The post-mortem examination reported “multiple layers of trauma all over (her) the entire body.” The cause of death was the result of an “acute brain injury.”
The story as described in the court room was an all to familiar one, an alcohol & drug fuelled violent dysfunctional relationship between two people held hostage by their addictions. The night before she died, Moar and McDonald were involved in a violent confrontation. It was not likely their first but it would certainly be their last. The gurgling sounds Moar made during the night failed to elevate McDonald’s concern for her wellbeing. He would find her deceased when he awoke from his alcohol and drug induced slumber.
McDonald was arrested by the RCMP and readily admitted to causing Moar’s death. He confessed to “slapping” her “many times” with “full force.” Consistent with most Domestic Violence cases, there was a trail of abuse leading up to Moar’s killing. In 2008 McDonald smashed Moar in the head with a bottle and was charged accordingly. The charges were dropped when Moar refused to testify. The investigation unearthed evidence that Moar had been seen in the Community showing signs of “trauma” in the past.
In her support of McDonald, defence attorney Roberta Campbell assigned equal responsibility for the killing to the victim Natasha Moar. “It was just an intensely volatile, violent ” relationship based around substance abuse,” she said. She went on to assert the violence was not “one-sided” but “in fact bent both ways.” Campbell indicated McDonald tried to leave the suite before the violence broke out but Moar held onto him and a “brawl” broke out. “He was trying to extract himself from the situation and it deteriorated,” she said.
Call me an idealist, but when it comes to the horrific beating death of a woman, I just don’t think assigning responsibility to the victim is an appropriate course of action. In fact, it concerns me that Justice Cummings allowed Campbell to participate in the “victim blaming” game. If McDonald had an argument to advance a self-defence case then he should never have pled guilty to Manslaughter. It was my understanding a guilty plea was supposed to mean a defendant was taking responsibility for a crime, not assigning equal blame to a victim. Lest we forget, this was a Crown / Defense joint recommendation that required little in the way of an explanation from the defense.
I’m disappointed that someone didn’t have the courage and common sense to stand up for Natasha Moar. Natasha may have struggled with addiction and may have had a propensity to be violent when she was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but that certainly didn’t mean she deserved to die. Leslie Grant McDonald did not have the right to take her life and committed the ultimate crime in doing so. For that, he should receive meaningful punishment.
Our Criminal Courts have to join our Society in taking a stand against Domestic Violence. The message condoning Domestic Violence has to be a strong one, it’s simply not okay for men to hit women and vice versa. Drug and alcohol consumption do not minimize the condemnation we should express for Domestic Violence. There is no excuse, period.
In my estimation, a five (5) year sentence for a Domestic Violence killing all but condones the crime, especially when you factor in the discounts associated with Statutory Release.
How did human life become so cheap?
By law, most federal inmates are automatically released after serving two-thirds of their sentence if they have not already been released on parole. This is called statutory release. (Source: Parole Board of Canada)