A jury has found 34-year-old Daniel Jensen guilty of first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing nearly two years ago of three-year-old Hunter Smith-Straight.
The offence carries an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
Hunter’s family declined to comment Wednesday night on the verdict as they left the Law Courts but could be seen hugging and crying after the decision was announced just after 8:30 p.m. The jury started deliberations around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and reached a verdict around 8 p.m.
Around 12 of Hunter’s relatives, with assistance from family support workers, were in the courtroom gallery to hear the jury foreperson give the verdict following a two-week trial in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench. Six sheriff’s officers, two Crown attorneys, and two defence lawyers as well as Justice Herbert Rempel and a court clerk were also in the courtroom.
The trial previously heard Hunter was fatally stabbed in his sleep six times in the early morning hours of Oct. 30, 2019.
He was found by a relative in his bed and taken to hospital but died three days later.
The Crown argued Jensen planned and deliberately stabbed the boy because he was mad at Hunter’s mom with whom he was in an on-again, off-again relationship.
Jurors heard Jensen’s clothing was covered in blood matching Hunter’s DNA.
The defence suggested someone else in the home may have been responsible and argued the case was circumstantial because no one saw Jensen stab Hunter.
Jensen’s lawyers declined comment.