Choking friend to death earns Red Deer man five years in prison

Choking a longtime friend to death cost a former New Brunswick man five years in a federal jail on Wednesday.

Choking a longtime friend to death cost a former New Brunswick man five years in a federal jail on Wednesday.

Martin David Munro, 37, of Red Deer, was sentenced to five years in jail but will serve another four years and two months after he was given credit for serving 10 months in pre-trial custody.

Munro pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Monday in the death of George William McDonald, 40, of Miramichi, N.B., last Jan. 20 at a residence on Forest Close in Red Deer

Red Deer provincial court Judge Gordon Deck said Munro’s moral culpability was moderate in that he knew his choke hold could put the victim at risk or cause bodily injury.

“The degree of force was enough to cause death but no more,” Deck said.

Deck also said there was some provocation on the part of McDonald.

He also said Munro’s minimal criminal record and brief lie to RCMP about the death weren’t significant aggravating factors in his decision.

Munro was set to start a preliminary hearing on Monday on a charge of second-degree murder before changing his plea.

Chief Crown prosecutor Anders Quist argued on Monday for a seven-year sentence while defence lawyer John MacNaughton said a four-year term would suffice.

Munro had known the victim since he was 12 years old.

The two were fighting because McDonald grabbed Munro’s girlfriend Jolyn Ten Hove, 37, of Red Deer in an inappropriate manner while the three were drinking and dancing.

Munro was also angry because McDonald, who had been invited to live with them, had gone out drinking at an earlier date with Ten Hove when Munro was away working.

Following a fight, in which Munro broke a finger while slugging McDonald in the eye, the victim started to leave the house but threatened Munro’s children in New Brunswick with harm and that threat led to more violence.

Munro then told Ten Hove to hide in the bathroom.

Munro managed to get the upper hand on the McDonald despite being on the floor with the victim on top of him with his face turned up.

Munro wrapped an arm around McDonald’s neck and clenched it tighter until the victim passed out.

The hold cuts off blood flow to the brain.

Deck heard earlier that Ten Hove then emerged from the bathroom and was told to choke McDonald if he became aggressive.

She grabbed a scarf and put it around McDonald’s neck but it was never tightened.

One of them got a knife and placed it in McDonald’s hand to pretend that he had attacked McDonald with the weapon, court was told.

Police were called and were initially told the story that the accused was defending himself.

The story quickly fell apart when Ten Hove was questioned by RCMP.

Deck agreed with Quist that Munro didn’t know how lethal the hold could be.

Munro apologized earlier.

“I wish I could take it all back. I still mourn the loss of my friend.”

Ten Hove, who remains in custody, returns to court on Dec. 12 for a preliminary hearing on a second-degree murder charge.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com