Manitoba woman who slashed sister’s throat nets 13-year sentence for attempted murder

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

A Manitoba woman who tried to murder her younger sister in a sneak knife attack, then stole her truck and left her to die in a Dauphin cemetery, will serve 13 years in prison. 

Kathleen Flatfoot, 50, previously pleaded guilty to attempted murder and learned her fate in Dauphin provincial court last Monday.

“Flatfoot’s crime is an extremely violent one, and her behaviour afterward was cold, calculated and designed to avoid arrest,” Judge Geoff Bayly said in his written sentencing decision.

Flatfoot attacked her 45-year-old sister from behind without provocation, leaving her “no ability to anticipate, protect or defend herself, Bayly wrote.

The victim was, in fact, “trying to support and help her sister with the difficult task of dealing with the death of her daughter,” prior to the March 13, 2023, attack, the decision said.

Flatfoot’s daughter had died accidentally after freezing to death on Lake Winnipegosis two weeks earlier.

[The victim] summoned an incredible amount of strength out of her sheer will to live.– Judge Geoff Bayly’s written decision

Flatfoot, her sister and others had driven to Dauphin the day before to make funeral arrangements. According to Bayly’s decision, Flatfoot was drinking and consuming drugs on the trip, and was frustrated by her sister asking for $200 for gas money.

She became angrier as they made their way to the small western Manitoba city, the decision said.

“Then her tirade turned dark, she talked about going ‘on a killing spree,’ that ‘everyone was going to get it’ and ‘everyone is going to get hurt,'” Bayly wrote.

Hours later, Flatfoot, her sister and others parked their truck at the Dauphin cemetery to use drugs and wait for the funeral home to open. At some point, Flatfoot said to her son, “‘let’s just kill these f–kers and take their truck,'” the decision says.

“While seated directly behind her in the back seat of her sister’s truck, the offender seized the opportunity and produced an eight-inch-long black hunting knife, placed one hand on her sister’s forehead and used the other to slit her throat,” it says.

‘I want to be free from feeling like a victim’  

The victim managed to flee, while two others in the group took off after her husband and beat him.

Flatfoot stole the truck, which was later abandoned in a park. Video surveillance from a nearby apartment block captured her laughing, then tossing her jacket away in the building’s garbage room.

She wasn’t arrested until 10 days later. 

After being left to die, the victim “summoned an incredible amount of strength out of her sheer will to live,” Bayly’s decision said.

Surveillance footage captured her stumbling to the nearby funeral home and ringing the doorbell for help. After a time, realizing there was no one there, she walked half a kilometre to a Tim Hortons, bleeding profusely. 

[Flatfoot] stated that all of her ‘trauma came up’ and she is not sure why she took it out on her sister.– Judge Geoff Bayly

Her injury left her unable to talk, so she wrote a note for staff and customers about her injured husband’s situation, Bayly wrote. She was rushed to a local hospital, stabilized and moved to Winnipeg, where she spent a week in intensive care. 

Her injury left her disfigured and in pain, the judge noted.

She told court at sentencing the attack left her filled with “terror, vulnerability and helplessness,” Bayly wrote. “She was afraid to close her eyes because she might not be able to open them again.” 

“I want to be free from feeling like a victim,” she told the court. 

Upbringing was ‘dangerous and unsafe’

In his decision, Bayly said Flatfoot’s crime had to be seen in light of “the rage and despair embedded in her by a lifetime of familial neglect and abuse, drug addiction and intergenerational trauma.” 

Reports prepared examining her background and circumstances said the Minegoziibe Anishinabe (formerly known as Pine Creek First Nation) woman takes full responsibility for her actions, despite not remembering much of what happened due to being intoxicated.

“She stated that all of her ‘trauma came up’ and she is not sure why she took it out on her sister,” Bayly wrote.

His decision said the reports put the crime in the context of how, as an Indigenous woman, she’s been “significantly impacted by this country’s legacy of colonialism and cultural assimilation.” 

For Flatfoot, that meant growing up in a “dangerous and unsafe” family environment where she was subjected to “all manner of physical and emotional abuse” which scarred her, according to the decision.

“It would appear that at every stage of her young life she was abandoned or harmed by those obligated to protect and provide for her, including government agencies like CFS [Child and Family Services],” wrote the judge. 

Bayly said usually, a sentence between 14 and 17 years would apply, but Flatfoot’s should be reduced to 13 years due to her background, her level of intoxication, her daughter’s death and “the significant systemic factors” that led to her offending.

That sentence would not be “unduly harsh or crushing,” he said. 

“It is a sentence that maintains a primary focus on the heinous nature of the offender’s crime,” he wrote.

“But it achieves a balance … a sentence of 13 years is a meaningful acknowledgement of how she has been negatively impacted by this country’s history of colonization and cultural assimilation.”