A first-degree murder charge has been dropped against a Manitoba woman accused of deliberately running over and killing her pregnant sister.
Pandora Nancy Owens, 25, will instead stand trial on a lesser charge of second-degree murder following a recently completed preliminary hearing. A court-ordered ban prevents specific details of that hearing, including the reasons for the decision, from being published at this time.
Owens is accused of the June 2013 incident in Little Grand Rapids, located about 300 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
The allegations have not been proven and she is presumed innocent. No trial date has been set.
Madison Blossom McKay, 22, died of massive injuries after being run over by a truck. She was six months pregnant at the time, and doctors were unable to save the fetus.
A first-degree murder charge indicates justice officials believed the killing was a planned and premeditated act. It carries a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years on conviction. A second-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.
Owens appeared in court earlier this week seeking bail, only to suddenly abandon her bid for freedom following the Crown's submission to the judge.
Court records obtained by the Free Press show Owens is no stranger to the justice system. She was out on bail at the time her sister was killed for charges including assault and driving impaired, for which she has now pleaded guilty and been sentenced. Homicides involving vehicles are also unusual, although one other case is currently before the courts.
Leevan Johnson Harper, 19, of Wasagamack First Nation, was run down in May 2013 in that community, located about 600 kilometres north of Winnipeg. Trevor Ronnie Knott, 18, has been charged with second-degree murder. Police say Knott and Harper had been "socializing" prior to the incident.