She died in 2015, nearly two years later her common-law partner was charged with manslaughter and now nine months later he has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in the death of Sara-Jean Big Sorrel Horse.
Defence lawyer Mansoor Khan and Crown prosecutor Michael Fox came to a resolution in the case as day one of a preliminary hearing was set to begin in Lethbridge court.
In February of this year, 43-year-old Jimmy Bad Man was charged with manslaughter. On Monday, he pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death.
The court heard from the Crown the events leading up to Big Sorrel Horse’s death. It began on June 26, 2015, when Bad Man, Big Sorrel Horse and two other Blood Tribe residents were drinking in an area known as “tent city” in Moses Lake, a community located on the south boundary of the Blood Reserve.
At the time, there were two tents in the area, one of which the common-law couple lived in.
Bad Man got money that day from his Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped cheque and purchased alcohol for Big Sorrel Horse, himself and two other tent city residents.
Big Sorrel Horse became extremely intoxicated, as did the other people partaking in the drinking. She passed out near the tent. Bad Man tried to wake her up by nudging her at first, then hitting her. He then began dropping his body on top of her repeatedly, she still did not wake up.
The next morning, June 27, the couple got up and went into town. On their way back to tent city, Big Sorrel Horse collapsed on the path. Bad Man tried to wake her for about 20 minutes. When she wouldn’t wake up he went to a nearby friend’s house. The friend called 911 and followed Bad Man back to where Big Sorrel Horse was, the friend began CPR.
Paramedics arrived and took her to the Cardston Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The Crown told the court it was determined her death was a homicide. She suffered 47 injuries including displaced and fractured ribs, a lacerated lung, liver, pancreas and bowel. Her cause of death was internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma.
In a joint submission, the Crown and the defence asked the judge to give a sentence of two years in jail with credit for time served.
Justice Eric Peterson was asked to take into consideration Bad Man’s past and upbringing. He and his family have a history of alcohol addiction, he receives financial assistance due to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and he’s consumed hairspray and Listerine when he couldn’t afford alcohol.
His lengthy criminal record was also presented in court. It dates back to 1986 and includes a number of violent convictions including assault causing bodily harm.
Bad Man told the court: “I never meant for this to happen.” He added he loved her and he was sorry.
Justice Peterson sentenced Bad Man to two years in jail with credit for time served. He has been in custody since his arrest and has 325 days left to serve on his sentence.