Eight years in prison for Thunder Bay man for throwing trailer hitch at Indigenous woman who died from injuries

A Thunder Bay, Ont. man who heaved a trailer hitch from a moving vehicle at an Indigenous woman in Jan. 2017 has been sentenced to 8 years in prison after being found guilty last year of manslaughter.

Barbara Kentner, 34, of Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation was hit in the abdomen and died six months later.

Brayden Bushby, 22, who was originally charged with second-degree murder, learned his fate Monday morning in Thunder Bay. Bushby previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault but that charge was stayed when he was convicted of manslaughter

The court heard Kentner was living with pre-existing conditions and the injuries she suffered from being hit with the trailer hitch hastened her death.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen Pierce told the court Kentner was an unsuspecting victim whose death shattered her friends and family, had a profoundly painful impact on Indigenous communities across the country and left non-Indigenous people in the community dismayed.

Court heard Bushby had been drinking heavily, retrieved a hitch, hoisted himself out of a moving vehicle and hurled the hitch at Kentner and her sister Melissa who were walking peacefully in a residential area in Thunder Bay.

Bushby, who was a passenger in the vehicle, had told a friend he wanted to go drive around and yell at sex workers and could be heard saying “I got one of them” and laughing after striking Barbara with the hitch.

Pierce ruled Bushby’s actions were motivated by bias against women but there was no evidence Bushby knew the Kentner women were Indigenous.

“Mr. Bushby has not been charged with committing a hate crime,” Pierce told the court. “He cannot be sentenced on that basis.”

But Pierce told Bushby his actions confirmed lived experiences in Thunder Bay where the court was told it’s a common experience for Indigenous people to have eggs, drinks, bottles, bricks and garbage thrown at them from moving vehicles.

“You have joined in this disgusting activity,” Pierce told Bushby. “Now we can add trailer hitches to that list.

“You have confirmed that these assaults continue.”

APPEAL FILED 

Bushby has filed an appeal of his manslaughter conviction, but a motion for bail pending that appeal has been struck down by an Ontario Court of Appeal Justice.

A lawyer for Bushby told the court his client’s appeal is based on whether the appellant’s action was a significant contributing cause of Kenter’s death.

“The learned trial judge erred in failing to resolve the critical question of whether there was another available cause of death that raised a reasonable doubt about the appellant’s guilt,” the appeal filed by Bushby’s lawyers reads.

“The learned trial judge erred in her findings on factual causation. The learned trial judge erred in her consideration of legal causation and whether there was an intervening cause that broke the chain of causation.”

The appeal states Busbhy is seeking his conviction be quashed and an acquittal be entered or that a new trial before a judge and jury be ordered.

There’s no decision yet on whether the appeal will be granted.