Judge says 18 years for man in drunken stabbing death ‘far too high,’ gives him 7½ years

A judge has sentenced a northern Manitoba man to 7½ years in prison for killing a man while drunk after a house party, dismissing the Crown’s request for 18 years as “far too high.” 

Wilfred Chubb, 48, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for stabbing Purvis Munroe, 46, after drinking some potent homebrew in August 2022, then getting angry when he requested more but was refused.

The attack happened at Bunibonibee Cree Nation, about 180 kilometres east of Thompson and 570 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Chubb left home the morning of Aug. 20, 2022, to get cigarettes at the store. He first walked to the nearby house of Tommy Okemow, where there had been a party the night before.

“It would appear that while at the Okemow home, Mr. Chubb consumed some of the homebrew,” says the written judgment of King’s Bench Justice Sarah Innes, which was delivered on May 21.

Chubb went home after the store, told his brother, Darwin, about the strong brew he drank, then returned to Okemow’s house to ask for more. Munroe, who had stayed through the night and was still drinking, refused to give him more and Chubb went back home.

Shortly afterward, he returned a third time. He sat on a couch next to Munroe and again requested more brew. After being denied, Chubb pulled out a knife with a serrated blade and stabbed Munroe twice in the thigh, just above the knee.

One of the wounds severed Munroe’s femoral artery and vein, resulting in a fatal loss of blood.

Chubb pointed the knife at Okemow before leaving the house and returning home, where he passed out.

When he heard about Munroe’s death, Darwin told Chubb to call police turn himself in.

During the sentencing hearing, the Crown pushed for the longer term in prison, arguing Chubb’s moral culpability was high due to the multiple times he returned to the Okemow home, the fact that he was armed with a weapon, his unprovoked and violent attack on Munroe and the threat toward Okemow.

While in prison awaiting his sentence, Chubb was assessed as a high risk to reoffend due to substance abuse, a criminal history and breaches of court orders, a low education (he only finished Grade 6) and domestic violence.

The sentence must emphasize deterrence and denunciation, the Crown argued.

Those play a role but so does rehabilitation, Innes wrote, agreeing with the defence that a sentence of six to eight years is more appropriate.

Innes gave Chubb 1½ days credit for each of the 632 days he was in pre-sentence custody, which means he has about five years remaining in his sentence.

During pre-sentence custody, Chubb has been respectful and has taken programs for substance abuse and managing stress, the judgment says. He meets with the chaplain and an elder and attends sweat lodges when they’re available.

Started drinking at 13 to cope

The defence emphasized the significant factors highlighted in Gladue reports, which are used to explain an Indigenous person’s history, their family’s history and their community’s history so courts take those circumstances into consideration.

He had an unstable upbringing and was exposed to extreme alcohol abuse by his parents and other community members. The impacts of colonialism include intergenerational trauma and a lack of cultural connection, Innes’s judgment says.

Chubb started using alcohol at 13, as a means to cope with the fear and dysfunction in his life.

After being released in 2016 from a four-year prison sentence for arson, he was putting his life on the right track, but it derailed when his mother passed away and his daughter died from suicide, the decision says.

“These losses, along with the prior loss of his father in 2002, his nephew, and his other brother, all had a cumulative impact on him. His grief overcame him. He began drinking again,” Innes wrote.

The defence argued that Chubb has expressed ongoing and deep feelings of shame and remorse, has taken full responsibility for the offence and his prior record, and has apologized directly to Munroe’s family.

As well, his guilty plea spared Munroe’s family and witnesses from going through a trial, the judgment says.

Munroe ‘kind and loving’

Munroe had children, grandchildren and siblings.

“The family has been impacted emotionally, psychologically, and financially. Mr. Munroe was described as a provider and support to his family. He was a kind and loving man, whose laughter and presence has been greatly missed and will continue to be missed,” the judgment says.

In their victim impact statements, his family said their pain is exacerbated by the fact that someone they know, a member of their own community, is responsible.