Sentencing in the June 2020 death of a Siksika Nation man was handed down by the Honourable Judge M.M. Keelaghan in provincial court in Drumheller on Friday, June 10.
The court heard how on June 22, 2020 the Gleichen RCMP were dispatched to an assault in the hamlet in the area of Main Street and 4 Avenue.
Upon arrival, RCMP found 53-year-old Danny Junior Eaglechild lying on the sidewalk. He had suffered a single stab wound to the chest and was pronounced deceased at the scene by EMS. Shortly afterwards, Rebecca Ann Yvette Raweater of Siksika Nation was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
Ms. Raweater got involved in an altercation with Mr. Eaglechild and another named individual outside a business on Main Street; it was noted Ms. Raweater got involved as she perceived the ongoing altercation between Mr. Eaglechild and the other individual was an “unequal fight.”
During the altercation, Ms. Raweater removed a knife from her shirt and inflicted a single stab wound to Mr. Eaglechild; the knife was later recovered from a storm drain near the scene and an autopsy would later confirm the cause of death was due to the stab wound injuring a major blood vessel.
A Gladue report was read into record noting Ms. Raweater was given up as an infant to be raised by her grandparents due to her parents’ drug and alcohol use.
Ms. Raweater dropped out of school to care for her grandmother prior to her passing from complications of diabetes, and Ms. Raweater lost a sister in 2017 to suspected homicide.
At the age of 17, Ms. Raweater was struck by a drunk driver and placed on prescription pain medication. This led to Ms. Raweater developing substance abuse issues, and Ms. Raweater’s two children were removed from her care due to these struggles; after losing custody of her children, Ms. Raweater started using street drugs including cocaine and fentanyl.
Mitigating factors in Judge Keelaghan’s sentencing decision included Ms. Raweater’s early guilty plea in November 2020, apology to the victim’s family and expression of remorse.
Judge Keelaghan also noted Ms. Raweater has maintained her sobriety and completed multiple courses, including anger management, during her incarceration.
Aggravating factors included Ms. Raweater’s lengthy criminal record, use of a weapon, and the impact on the victim’s family.
Judge Keelaghan sentenced Ms. Raweater to 3.5 years less 897 days for pre-trial custody, leaving 12 months to serve in a provincial institution, and probationary period of 18 months.
Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail