By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The family of a Manitoba Indigenous woman killed during a botched robbery will have to wait more than a month to see one of her killers sentenced.
Friends and family of Jeanenne Fontaine sat in a Winnipeg courtroom Thursday prepared to give victim impact statements in the sentencing hearing of Jason Meilleur. But the defence asked for an adjournment.
Crown prosecutor Michael Desautels turned to look at the group, apologized on behalf of the court, and said he knows the delay will only “serve to open up wounds.”
Fontaine, 29, was killed when three men came to her house to collect on a drug debt her boyfriend owed in 2017. When he wasn’t there, the situation turned into a botched robbery. Fontaine was shot in the head and the house set on fire.
Fontaine was the cousin of Tina Fontaine, a teenager whose body was found three years earlier in the Red River, and whose death fuelled calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.
In January, a jury found Meilleur and Christopher Brass guilty of manslaughter in Jeanenne Fontaine’s death.
Brass was sentenced to 15 years, which will be served at the same time as a first-degree and second-degree murder conviction for separate matters. He will not be eligible for parole for 40 years.
The third man, Malcolm Mitchell, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life.
Meilleur’s lawyer, Theodore Mariash, told court Thursday that he was not prepared for sentencing for multiple reasons. He also said his client had requested a pre-sentence report that would look into his childhood.
“This is not a sentencing that ought to be rushed for no apparent reason,” Mariash said.
The Crown said he was frustrated by a delay that would waste time and emotional energy for the family.
The date was pushed to April 18.