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Hay River man convicted again

Erika Sherk
Northern News Services

Hay River (Dec 04/06) - A Hay River man has been sentenced to three years in jail for killing a man in 2002.

Pavel Bruha was found guilty of manslaughter last week after a jury trial in the Supreme Court in Hay River.

It was the second time he was convicted in connection to the death of Yves "Frenchy" Lebel.

Bruha, in his mid-50s, was first convicted and sentenced to five years in jail in 2003, but that conviction was set aside after questions arose about an improper cross-examination during the original jury trial.

He served 16.5 months in jail before being granted bail pending an appeal in Nov. 2004.

The sentence of three years reflects the original sentence of five years, with consideration given for the weight of the time he has already spent in jail, said crown prosecutor Steven Hinkley.

Supreme Court judge Virginia Schuler presided over the trial. The 12-person jury deliberated for about three hours, according to Hinkley, before coming to their conclusion.

Bruha did not testify at this trial, though he did at the first, said Hinkley. Instead, forensic pathologist Dr. John Butt served as an expert defence witness. The crown also had extra witnesses who had not testified at the 2003 trial.

Bruha was charged with manslaughter after the death of Lebel in January, 2002.

Bruha and Craig Stromberg were both charged. Stromberg pled guilty in 2002 and was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

According to court documents, the two had gone to Lebel's apartment to "teach him a lesson" because they suspected Lebel had been carrying on an affair with Bruha's wife.

Stromberg kicked the door open and Bruha struck Lebel in the face. Stromberg then threw Lebel onto a bed, which he rolled off, appearing to be unconscious.

It was later determined that Lebel died from internal injuries.