Samantha Zeemel (Facebook)

Two killers, each offered plea deals today without Manitoba Justice stating any reasons as to why.

Case #1) Nicole Redhead suffocates and kills her abused baby daughter Jaylene and is charged with second-degree murder. The abuse and killing happens while she’s staying at a North End treatment centre, but no staff ever called police. It was Redhead’s incarcerated boyfriend who called 911. The girl was, by accounts, savagely beaten.

Case history: After a preliminary inquiry, Judge Mary-Kate Harvie rules Redhead should be tried for manslaughter given the evidence the Crown presented. The Crown fights for the reinstatement of the murder charge [and virtual certainty of greater punishment] and wins.

But then on Wednesday (today), Redhead pleads out to manslaughter, which carries no mandatory sentence.

No reason is given.

Case #2) Jason McDowell shoots his girlfriend Samantha Zeemel twice, in the head and the face after a cocaine binge in an East St. Paul home.

[UPDATE]: I should say alleged binge because he went on the run for a bit after the shooting and there was no real way to tell how intoxicated he was at the time.

Case history: Over the life of the file, McDowell and his lawyers try to quash the first-degree murder charge in favour of manslaughter, but the judge says no, goes halfway and allows a second-degree murder trial to go ahead.

But, like Redhead, the Crown allows him to plead to manslaughter at the last minute and he’s handed a 12-year sentence. No parole eligibility, no mandatory supervision for life despite the nature of the crime.

Again, no reason for the plea deal is given, or is at least stated in either The Sun, Free Press or CTV which reported thus:

McDowell had originally been charged with first-degree murder. That charge was later dropped to second-degree murder, before the charge was lowered once more to manslaughter in a plea deal.

[UPDATE:] Freep reporting:

The Crown agreed to drop a more serious charge of second-degree murder, which carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years. They cited his impairment as the main issue.

Not to beat a dead horse, but at the time of the shooting, RCMP believed there was enough evidence to support the most serious Criminal Code charge, and likely a Manitoba Justice Crown had to sign off on it, or was at least consulted prior to it being laid.

I can understand that a judge may see it differently and lessen the charge, but that was — despite McDowell’s lawyer’s fighting it — second-degree murder.

But in the end, there’s a plea to manslaughter.

-30-

5 thoughts on “The daily deal(s), Wednesday:

  1. James, off hand how often does an initial first degree charge get whittled down to manslaughter? It happens all the time with second degree murder, but I’m having trouble remembering recent cases where the plea was such a change in the charges.

    1. Now that you mention it — Very rarely, if ever. In recent memory, the only plea down from first is in the Labossiere killings in St. Leon, and that’s from first to second-degree.

      From first to manslaughter? Have to look into that…

      J

  2. Hey James…
    Perhaps you missed this. Here is the direct quote for CTV’s article…

    “The two main witnesses had also been under the influence at the time and the Crown feared their testimony wouldn’t hold up in court. “

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