A Winnipeg man has been convicted for the brutal killing of his boyfriend after finding out he was HIV positive.
Michael Pearce, 47, was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison on Tuesday.
Stuart Mark, 36, was found dead in his Albert Avenue home in January 2007. Court heard Mark suffered 58 blunt force injuries and at least one stab wound, consistent with a golf club.
In the months following Mark’s death, Pearce first approached Winnipeg Police on two different occasions and claimed he had information about the investigation. After going on a ride-along with police and taking a polygraph test, investigators deemed Pearce was not a suspect.
Officers were actually reluctant to talk to Pearce for a third time in July 2007, but arrested him less than an hour after their conversation began and charged him in the killing.
Pearce originally went to trial in 2012 and was convicted of manslaughter despite defense lawyers arguing their client was coaxed into a false confession. The Manitoba Court of Appeal overturned that decision and ordered a new trial. They ruled the trial judge made errors in informing the jury about false confessions.
Pearce then tried to have that full confession thrown out before his second hearing, claiming he made it all up in a weak mental state during which time he tried to kill himself and overdosed on Tylenol 3s. But, Judge Chris Martin rule the statement he gave to police was admissible as evidence.
During Pearce’s new trial, the Crown argued the accused knew specific details about the weapon used to kill Mark and the exact location his body. They argued it was information only the killer would know.
Judge Martin told court that he could not ignore that evidence and pointed out Pearce’s motive – a fit of rage against his boyfriend who was HIV positive and did not tell Pearce until after they had unprotected sex.
“Simply put, you lost it,” Judge Martin told Pearce. “Mr. Mark paid a circumstance he did not have to pay.”
Pearce will serve just over five years with credit for time already served.