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Sentencing hearing set in Marathon manslaughter case

Sheldon Finlayson was convicted in the death of Wade Hendry-Lee Otiquam-Joy.

THUNDER BAY — A sentencing hearing will be held next month for a man convicted in a fatal assault that took place in Marathon three years ago.

In August 2018,  20-year-old Wade Hendry-Lee Otiquam-Joy died in Thunder Bay hospital a day after he was found unconscious at a residence in Marathon.

OPP had already taken Sheldon Finlayson, then 45 years old, into custody.

At trial on Dec. 18, 2020, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Court was told that on the day of the assault, Finlayson tried to instigate a fight with the victim.

According to a witness, Otiquam-Joy declined to fight but was sucker-punched by Finlayson with what was described as a haymaker.

"He really cocked back – he put everything into it," the witness said.

He said Otiquam-Joy was struck on the side of the jaw or neck, collapsed immediately, and had difficulty breathing.

A pathologist found that he died from a brain hemorrhage that resulted from a ruptured artery after a heavy blunt force injury to his neck.

In an interview with the OPP prior to his victim's death, Finlayson prepared a letter expressing remorse, adding "Me doing something like this makes me want to never drink ever again. This is a really shi--- feeling knowing that I'm the one that's making you fight for your life, and I pray to God that you make it out of this, not for me, but for you and your family."

Superior Court Justice W. Danial Newton conducted what's known as a Gardiner Hearing, a hearing where evidence is presented on aggravating or mitigating facts that are in dispute by either the Crown or accused.

The judge said he was satisfied that Finlayson meant to cause serious bodily harm to Otiquam-Joy based on the force he used in an unforeseen attack.

However, he was unable to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Finlayson knew the blow was likely to cause Otiquam-Joy's death. As such, the judge said a case could not be made for murder.

He also said that, based on the evidence, he was unable to assess whether intoxication played any role in the crime, other than contributing to Finlayson's belligerence. 

The court will hear sentencing submissions on March 31.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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