Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Man [Abiola Akintunde Mathews] pleads guilty to manslaughter in stabbing

17-year-old Mariak Jok died on September 6, 2009 after stabbed by Abiola Akintunde Mathews

They both came to Canada hoping for a better life. But a chance meeting on a downtown Winnipeg street — fuelled by alcohol and some heated words — would result in both their dreams being dashed.

Abiola Akintunde Matthews, 37, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the September 2009 stabbing death of 17-year-old Michael Mariak Jok.

Matthews returned to court Tuesday for sentencing and faces deportation back to Africa upon his release from prison. The Crown is seeking a 12-year prison term, while defence lawyer Josh Weinstein has asked for seven years.

Queen’s Bench Justice Karen Simonsen has reserved her decision until later this year.

"I am deeply sorry for your loss, from the bottom of my heart," Matthews told the victim’s family in court Tuesday. "I know I caused much pain for your family. I really feel what happened every day, taking the life of a young man."

The tragic incident began when Matthews and a friend were driving through the neighbourhood when they spotted Jok and a group of his friends walking down the street, court was told. There was no apparent prior history between the two men.

Matthews’ friend shouted a crude remark towards some young women in the group. That prompted an angry Jok to walk up to their vehicle and pour out a bottle of beer he was carrying on the car. He also threw the empty bottle towards Matthews, who responded by getting out of the car carrying a knife.

One of Jok’s friends then took off his belt and began swinging it, striking Matthews who slashed him in the cheek with his knife. Jok then lunged towards Matthews, shoving him. Matthews responded by stabbing Jok once in the throat, causing massive blood loss that caused his death.

Matthews fled the scene but later confessed his crime to a friend, who reported it to police several days later.

Matthews has been in custody since his arrest and is expected to be given double-time credit of more than six years because it pre-dates legislative changes outlawing the practice.

Jok was a Grade 12 student at Miles Macdonell Collegiate who came to Canada in 2004. Family members say he spent his early life in Ethiopia and dreamed of attending university in Canaday. The teen attended a youth group at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church and was an avid soccer and basketball player.

"We came here to make a life," said a friend, Matthew Joseph, 20. "He was too young to die at this early age."

.....Mike McCintyre/Winnipeg Free Press
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