WINNIPEG — A Crown prosecutor has told a murder trial that it was an act of vengeance against a three-year-old boy's mother when a man repeatedly stabbed the child as he was lying in bed.
Daniel Jensen, 34, pleaded not guilty Monday on the first day of his trial on a charge of first-degree murder.
Hunter Smith-Straight was stabbed six times in his head and neck.
A jury heard that police were called to a home in Winnipeg's North End in the early morning of Oct. 30, 2019.
"A little boy was stabbed," a crying and screaming Brenda Smith told a 911 operator in a call that was played in court.
"I think he is dead," she said.
The Crown said Smith placed the call, which lasted less than a minute, the morning Hunter was attacked. Smith's relationship to the boy was not explained, although court heard Hunter had been at the home with several older cousins.
Prosecutor Courtney St. Croix said during her opening statement that domestic violence is at the core of the case. The Crown told the jury that Jensen attacked the toddler to get back at his mother, Clarice Smith, whom Jensen was in a relationship with at the time.
Court heard Jensen and Smith were at a bar together with two others earlier in the night and a physical fight broke out between the two.
Jensen had been prohibited by a court order from being in contact with Hunter's mother.
The Crown alleges Jensen went back to Smith's nearby home and stabbed the boy in retaliation.
St. Croix told the jury that Jensen was overwhelmed by his desire to harm the boy's mother and wanted to "hurt her in the cruellest way."
"(Jensen) had so much rage toward his domestic partner," said St. Croix.
St. Croix told the jury none of the people in the home saw Jensen stab Hunter.
The toddler was transported to a hospital, where he was placed on life support due to brain damage from severe blood loss. He was removed from the machines three days later and died.
Jensen was originally charged with second-degree murder, but that was upgraded to first-degree murder during a preliminary hearing.
The Crown said the premeditative nature of the attack justifies the higher charge.
"This was not an accident. This was not an impulsive act. This was deliberate. This was something (Jensen) thought on and planned as he walked from the Northern Bar to (the home)," said St. Croix.
The court also heard from several Winnipeg police officers who were at the home that morning.
"It felt like people were everywhere. We rolled into a very emotional and chaotic scene," Const. Kevin Toews testified.
The trial is scheduled to last for 20 days.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Jensen faces a charge of second-degree murder.