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Man guilty in woman's slaying

A man has been found guilty in the murder of a young Manitoba woman -- an innocent victim whose "fatal mistake" of revealing a relative was in jail for a homicide cost her her life.

Dustin Wyatt Chubb, 23, was originally charged by RCMP with first-degree murder for the death of Louise Baker, 22, exposing him to the prospect of a life sentence without a chance at parole for 25 years.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Chris Martin has ruled Chubb's actions on Sept. 2, 2010, weren't planned and premeditated, and has instead convicted him of second-degree murder following a trial.

The victim, a stranger, was invited to come and drink with a group of Oxford House residents (six women and Chubb) who were staying at a Thompson townhouse. While they sat at the kitchen table, the victim revealed a relative was serving time for the homicide of an Oxford House man. This was her "fatal mistake," Martin said.

Her comment drew the drunken group's ire. A witness said she overheard Chubb say in Cree: "You want to end up like him?" Martin said.

The victim was then beaten upstairs before being taken into the basement and attacked further.

Sorting out who did what to her was complicated. The women present testified they saw others in the group punching or kicking Baker but denied assaulting her themselves, Martin said.

The victim ultimately died of severe blunt- and sharp-force trauma, said the judge.

A witness told court she saw Chubb come up alone from the basement, the inference being he was down there with her for some time by himself, Martin said. He then joined up with some of the group at a hotel bar and was reported to have told people he killed her.

Despite being convicted of a lesser charge, Chubb still receives an automatic life sentence. Chubb offered to plead guilty to manslaughter at the outset of the trial, but the Crown refused.

Prosecutors have signalled they will ask his parole ineligibility be increased from the mandatory 10 years.

The case took an unusual twist as it wound through the courts: After the group of six women testified at Chubb's preliminary hearing in 2012, RCMP charged each of them with second-degree murder. One has agreed to plead to manslaughter while four others will admit to assault causing bodily harm, said Martin.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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