A Winnipeg man who murdered a three-year-old boy was sentenced to life in prison Friday. with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Daniel Jensen was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday in the stabbing death of Hunter Smith-Straight, in a case that horrified Manitobans in 2019.
On Wednesday, a jury found Jensen guilty of stabbing Hunter multiple times in the head and neck while sleeping in his Pritchard Avenue home on October 30, 2019. Hunter was rushed to hospital after being found by a family member, but died days later after being taken off life support.
Friday, Crown lawyers read aloud a victim impact statement on behalf of Hunter’s family.
The statement was from a family member who found the boy with a knife still stuck in his neck, an image that has haunted her since. She was also one of the ones with him when he took his last breath.
She said it was still too painful to look at photos and videos of the boy. The statement said Hunter wanted to be a police officer when he grew up, and that her life has been so empty after Hunter’s death – “like the world just stopped”.
The Crown said the incident was a tragic act of domestic violence that ended in a vicious murder, and nothing can undo the harm done to the family.
On Friday, the defence lawyer gave a brief statement on behalf of Jensen’s mother, expressing her anguish and extending her condolences to Hunter’s family.
Outside of court, Hunter’s grandmother Charlene Straight gave a brief statement to media, and thanked the Crown, the Winnipeg Police Service, Victims’ Services, and Candace House.
“We are relieved to have justice for Hunter, although it does not bring him back to us,” Straight said through tears.
“We feel that justice has been served and Hunter may rest in peace now. Thank you to everyone who has supported our family through this terrible nightmare.”
The court heard that on the night of the stabbing, the boy’s mother told Jensen she was leaving Winnipeg and taking Hunter with her, and that he was not welcome to come.
In an apparent act of vengeance, Jensen went to Hunter’s home, snuck up the stairs and stabbed the sleeping boy six times.
During the trial the defence argued the case was circumstantial, as no one witness Jensen attack the boy.
Jensen is also now under a lifetime weapons ban and won’t be eligible for parole until Oct. 29, 2044.