Melissa Whitegrass sentenced in death of former partner Austin Forysth

A mother of three and decorated Canadian veterans of the war in Afghanistan has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for the death of her former common-law partner.

Melissa Dumaine Whitegrass, 37, was sentenced for dangerous driving causing death on March 9 and will serve just over two years after being given credit for pre-trial custody.

She was convicted for the June 2020 death of Austin James Forysth, 30, who was hit by a vehicle while walking in an alley near Ninth Avenue and 13th Street N, in Lethbridge. He died in hospital days later.

Charges of first-degree murder and assault with a weapon were withdrawn. Her license will also be suspended for five years.

Whitegrass remained at the scene and initially told police the crash was accidental, however after a nine-month investigation it was deemed to be a case of domestic violence.

Police said Forsyth and Whitegrass were involved in a common-law relationship until 2017.

Whitegrass served in the military and was recognized for her bravery and sacrifice.

She was wounded in a deadly attack on a NATO convoy while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, suffering a concussion, broken ribs, a back injury and hearing loss.

The attack killed six NATO soldiers and 12 Afghan civilians.

Whitegrass was presented with the Chief of Defense Staff Commendation for her actions during the incident.

She was also selected to capture Stephen Harper, who was prime minister at the time, during a Kainai Chieftainship Ceremony in 2011, an honor traditionally given to warriors. Whitegrass was the first woman to be given that role.

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