Verdict expected today in trailer hitch manslaughter

The Canadian Press

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – A verdict is expected today in the manslaughter trial of a man who threw a trailer hitch at an Indigenous woman in Thunder Bay, Ont.

The trial surrounding the death of Barbara Kentner in Thunder Bay, Ont., took place last month.

Kentner died in July 2017, months after she suffered internal injuries from a trailer hitch thrown from a moving vehicle.

The trial heard from a forensic pathologist that the hitch assault ruptured Kentner’s small bowel and that caused an abdominal infection that “hastened” the 34-year-old woman’s death, although she had an underlying illness that contributed.

Brayden Bushby, who was 18 at the time, admitted to throwing the hitch at Kentner on Jan. 29, 2017, and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault but not guilty to manslaughter.

The case drew criticism about how the justice system deals with incidents involving Indigenous victims after Bushby’s second-degree murder charge was downgraded to manslaughter and aggravated assault.

The trial heard the change was made because space limitations made a jury trial impossible in Thunder Bay during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crown lawyer Andrew Sadler said it was a priority for the trial to proceed this fall, and the “only way” for that to happen was to have a trial by judge alone, which “could not happen, in this case, on the charge of murder.”