Winnipeg police upgrade charge to murder in stabbing of 3-year-old boy
Published Thursday, November 7, 2019 12:53PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 7, 2019 1:25PM EST
WINNIPEG -- Police in Winnipeg have upgraded a charge in the death of a three-year-old boy to second-degree murder.
Daniel Jensen had been charged with attempted murder after the sleeping boy was stabbed multiple times in a home last week.
Hunter Haze Straight-Smith suffered severe brain damage and died on Saturday after his family decided to take him off life support. Family said the injuries were brutal.
A relative said Hunter's mother, Clarice Smith, had been in an on-again-off-again relationship with Jensen, but he was not the boy's father.
Investigators have said they believe there was an argument between Hunter's mother and Jensen before the attack.
Police allege Jensen then walked to the home where Hunter was asleep and stabbed him several times.
Jensen was also charged with assault for the altercation that allegedly occurred between him and Hunter's mother.
Police have said that at the time of the attack on the boy, Jensen was under a court order not to contact Smith.
Bianca Smith, one of Hunter's aunts, said last week that the family could not understand why the child would have been targeted.
She said Hunter was smart, mischievous and happy, and his mother was devastated.
Several vigils were held in the city before and after the boy died. Mourners placed stuffed animals, flowers and other offerings around the trunk of a large tree in front of the home.
At an earlier vigil outside Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre before the boy was taken off life support, Hunter's mother and other relatives hugged each other and wept during Indigenous prayers and drum songs.
A friend of the boy's family, Darryl Contois, said Hunter's mother and father and other relatives remained at the boy's bedside after the machines that were keeping him alive were removed.
"They broke down, like any mother would do, or any father would do. There's no words to take away that pain from them," Contois said.
In the days before Hunter was attacked, several other young people were injured or killed in violent crimes.
A 14-year-old girl was killed and an 18-year-old woman was taken to hospital in critical condition after a stabbing at a party and a baby was injured when shots were fired into a home.
Premier Brian Pallister is hoping to speak to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a meeting in Ottawa on Friday about violent crime in the province.
Police Chief Danny Smyth has linked a surge in violence to Winnipeg's methamphetamine crisis.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2019.