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Sheldon Hibbs pleads guilty to manslaughter for Waterford Valley homicide

Sheldon Hibbs has pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter in the 2021 homicide of Michael King. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC - image credit)
Sheldon Hibbs has pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter in the 2021 homicide of Michael King. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC - image credit)
Sheldon Hibbs has pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter in the 2021 homicide of Michael King.
Sheldon Hibbs has pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter in the 2021 homicide of Michael King.

Sheldon Hibbs has pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter in the 2021 homicide of Michael King. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)

Warning: This story contains descriptions of sexual assault.

Sheldon Hibbs pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday, accepting a plea deal that saw his charge downgraded from second-degree murder.

Hibbs was arrested in Calgary in March 2022 on a Canada-wide warrant for the death of Michael King.

King, 68, was discovered on a trail between Waterford Valley High School and Holbrook Avenue in the west end of St. John's on May 30, 2021.

Hibbs had initially pleaded not guilty and was scheduled for a jury trial, but formally pleaded to the lesser charge in Supreme Court in St. John's Wednesday, where Crown prosecutor Ashley Targett read out an agreed statement of facts.

According to the statement, Hibbs said he had been walking along the path when he met King, who had already been drinking and invited him to join him.

After drinking, they sat on the ground and King got on top of Hibbs, trying to kiss Hibbs and touch his penis. That was when Hibbs "snapped' and grabbed a nearby wine bottle and struck King over the head, breaking the bottle. He also stabbed King.

Afterwards, Hibbs undressed King and wore his clothes.

Hibbs also said he'd been sexually assaulted in the past.

Findings from King's autopsy, also read by Targett, detailed King's extensive injuries, including rib fractures, multiple fractures, collapsed lungs, small skull fracture and hemorrhage to the brain, as well as multiple blunt force injuries to the face and head. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries.

Two years in making

It took two years from Hibbs being arrested to reach Wednesday's deal.

In February 2022, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary charged Hibbs with second-degree murder and issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant. He was eventually located in Alberta.

Access-to-information requests revealed that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary chartered a $91K flight from Calgary to return Hibbs to N.L., saying at the time he was banned from commercial flights.

Police maintain an active presence in a wooded area on Monday after human remains were found in a part of Waterford Valley, which police are now treating as a suspicious death investigation.
Police maintain an active presence in a wooded area on Monday after human remains were found in a part of Waterford Valley, which police are now treating as a suspicious death investigation.

Police investigated part of this trail in Waterford Valley in May of 2021 after discovering Michael King's body. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

On Wednesday, Justice Vikas Khaladkar said he accepted the manslaughter plea.

Hibbs was represented by Legal Aid lawyer Jason Edwards, who said he would make an application for a pre-sentencing report.

Hibbs was taken into custody and will appear before a judge on June 18 for sentencing submissions.

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