Man accused of killing 3-year-old Winnipeg boy was angry about plan to move, mother testifies

Hours before three-year-old Hunter Straight-Smith was fatally stabbed, Daniel Jensen — who is accused of killing the toddler — was told the boy and his mother were planning to move away, the woman told a jury Tuesday.

Jensen is on trial at Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, charged with first-degree murder in Hunter’s 2019 stabbing death. The 34-year-old has pleaded not guilty. 

Clarice Smith, Hunter’s mother, told the court Tuesday that before the fatal Oct. 30 stabbing, Jensen was living with them.

She said that night, she visited a few bars and lounges in Winnipeg with a couple of friends and Jensen, with whom she was in an on-again, off-again relationship.

While in a vehicle at one point, she Jensen got into an argument, Smith told the jury.

He said, ‘I’ll get your son taken away from you.’– Clarice Smith

She said she couldn’t recall the reason for the dispute, but it escalated.

“He said, ‘I’ll get your son taken away from you,'” Smith testified.

She then punched Jensen three times, Smith said.

The threat led Smith to decide she would move with Hunter back to her home community of Manigotagan, about 150 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, without Jensen. She was initially planning to bring Jensen along. 

“I don’t know where we were going to go, but I was going to take [Hunter] somewhere … because I didn’t feel safe with Dan,” Smith testified.

Jensen was jealous, angry night of stabbing: mother

Smith told the jury she went into the bedroom where the three slept and dressed Hunter in a sweater and sweatpants. Then a friend came and convinced her to go to a bar at the Northern Hotel on Main Street, so she put Hunter back to sleep.

When asked in court if that was the last time she saw her son alive, Smith said yes and started to cry. The trial went into a short recess.

Smith testified Jensen became jealous at the bar that night when she chatted with some acquaintances.

She later told him she had a change of plans regarding her future living arrangements.

“I told him just me and Hunter were going to move to my mom’s,” she said.

“He got mad.”

Smith testified that Jensen assaulted her and left the bar, and she didn’t see him again that night.

Crown prosecutors alleged on Monday, the first day of the trial, that Jensen was so full of rage against the boy’s mother he tried to hurt her in the cruellest way he knew how — by taking the life of her only son.

Crown prosecutor Courtney St. Croix told the jury on Monday that Jensen went alone to Hunter’s home on Pritchard Avenue, where he went upstairs and stabbed the sleeping boy six times in the neck and face.

Hunter was taken to hospital and 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 initially charged with several offences, including attempted murder, but that charge was later upgraded.

The trial, which is scheduled to last for a month, continues on Wednesday.

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