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McKay pleads guilty in 2019 beating death of Nazareth Kwandibens

Johnathon McKay was originally charged with second-degree murder in connection to the 2019 beating death of Nazareth Kwandibens but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter
Arundel Scene 1
Thunder Bay Police Service holding the scene at the Arundel Street residence where Nazareth Kwandibens was beaten. (File).

THUNDER BAY — A man who repeatedly beat another man over the course of several hours after learning he cheated with his ex-partner has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Johnathon McKay, 43, appeared via video from the Thunder Bay District Jail before Justice Bruce Fitzpatrick on Friday where he pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, but guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter for his role in the 2019 death of 41-year-old Nazareth Kwandibens.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Superior North EMS and Thunder Bay Fire Rescue were dispatched to a residence on the 300 block of Arundel Street the afternoon of Nov. 13, 2019.

Emergency services located two females and a male inside the residence and were informed by one of the females that the male had beaten another male.

Paramedics found an injured male in the bedroom. The male, later identified as Kwandibens, had injuries to his face, head, and torso and he had no vital signs.

As paramedics performed life-saving measures, police were also dispatched to the residence. A short time later, Kwandibens was pronounced dead at the scene.

The three individuals in the residence, including McKay, were detained by police. One of the women told police that she “cheated on John with Nazareth” and that’s why “John beat him to death.”

Police determined there were reasonable grounds that McKay caused the death of Kwandibens and he was placed under arrest.

Further interviews with the woman revealed that she and Kwandibens were consuming alcohol together in his residence the evening of Nov. 12. McKay, who had previously been in a relationship with the woman, discovered her with Kwandibens and proceeded to punch him in the head and face.

Kwandibens was taken to a neighbouring residence and throughout the night, McKay repeatedly assaulted him by punching and kicking him in the head and stomping on his chest.

It became clear to the three present that Kwandibens was critically injured. McKay said he wanted to “get a fix” before calling an ambulance and the three left Kwandibens on the floor before leaving the residence. When they returned, 911 was called.

Both women who were present told police they observed McKay beating Kwandibens and that they had nothing to do with his death.

A post-mortem examination determined Kwandibens suffered numerous blunt force injuries to his head, face, neck, and torso. The cause of death was determined to be acute subdermal hematoma from a blunt force head injury.

It was determined McKay was under the influence of alcohol and crack cocaine when he beat Kwandibens, ultimately causing his death.

A Gladue report has been ordered. The matter has been adjourned to later this month to set a date for sentencing.

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