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Lethbridge woman pleads guilty in former partner’s death; murder charge dropped

File photo of the Lethbridge courthouse. Global News File

A Lethbridge woman has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison in the death of her former common-law partner.

Melissa Whitegrass, a decorated Canadian veteran who was injured during the Afghanistan war, pleaded guilty on what was supposed to be the first day of her preliminary trial.

In June of 2020, Austin Forsyth was hit by a truck in a south Lethbridge alley and died in hospital.

Read more: Lethbridge woman charged with 1st-degree murder of ex-boyfriend after fatal 2020 collision

Whitegrass admitted to dangerous driving causing death, while charges of first-degree murder and assault with a weapon were withdrawn.

Lethbridge police said their investigation led them to believe the act was intentional, but Whitegrass’ lawyer said his client never intended to cause harm and even performed CPR on Forsyth at the scene.

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Scott Hadford also said his client expressed remorse to the court that her dangerous driving caused Forsyth’s death.

Whitegrass was sentenced to three-and-a-half years behind bars. With credit for pre-trial custody, she has approximately two years remaining in her sentence.

She was also given a five-year driving suspension.

While a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Whitegrass was awarded the “sacrifice medal” in 2011 by former prime minster Stephen Harper for injuries she sustained in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan.

She suffered multiple injuries, including a concussion, when her NATO convoy came under attack, killing 18 people.

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