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Man accused of killing 5 family members in southern Manitoba deemed fit to stand trial

These photos show, clockwise from top left, Amanda Clearwater, 30, (shown with her mother), her children Bethany, 6, Jayven, 4, and two-month-old Isabella Manoakeesick, and cousin Myah Gratton, 17. Ryan Howard Manoakeesick, 29, of Carman, Man., has been charged in their deaths. (Chelsea Cowell/Facebook - image credit)
These photos show, clockwise from top left, Amanda Clearwater, 30, (shown with her mother), her children Bethany, 6, Jayven, 4, and two-month-old Isabella Manoakeesick, and cousin Myah Gratton, 17. Ryan Howard Manoakeesick, 29, of Carman, Man., has been charged in their deaths. (Chelsea Cowell/Facebook - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains details involving the deaths of children.

A man accused of killing his common-law partner, their three young children and his partner's foster cousin in southern Manitoba last month has been deemed fit to stand trial, a Winnipeg court heard on Thursday afternoon.

The results of a mental health assessment for Ryan Manoakeesick, 29, were delivered earlier Thursday, Crown attorney Christian Vanderhooft told court. No further details were provided.

Manoakeesick, who did not appear in court, was represented by a law student who appeared for defence lawyer Laura Robinson.

Manoakeesick is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his common-law partner, Amanda Clearwater, 30, their three children, six-year-old Bethany, four-year-old Jayven and two-month-old Isabella, as well as Clearwater's foster cousin Myah Gratton, 17.

Their bodies were discovered earlier this month at three separate locations in and around Carman, a town of 3,000 people southwest of Winnipeg.

Forensic investigators on the scene of an ongoing investigation regarding five deaths in southern Manitoba, in Carman, Man., Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.
Forensic investigators on the scene of an ongoing investigation regarding five deaths in southern Manitoba, in Carman, Man., Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Forensic investigators walk outside a house in Carman, Man., in connection with an investigation into the deaths of five people. (David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press)

Clearwater was found in a ditch just off a highway on Feb. 11. The children's bodies were pulled from a burning vehicle several hours later.

Gratton's body was found later the same day in the home where she lived with Clearwater and Manokeesick.

His case has been adjourned until June 3.

"By that time, we expect counsel will have full disclosure, or very close to it. And in the meantime, we'll have discussions," Crown attorney Vanderhooft said.

Manoakeesick has been held in custody since his arrest. A Crown attorney previously told a justice of the peace the prosecution will oppose any bail applications.

Call for inquiry into teen's death

In the days and months before Gratton was killed, the teen told friends and family she feared for her safety, and asked to be removed from the house where she was living with Clearwater and Manoakeesick.

Her mother, Juliette Hastings, said she warned authorities her daughter wasn't safe living in the same house as Manoakeesick.

CBC News has also learned RCMP were called to the Carman house at least once, on Oct. 31, 2023. The RCMP spokesperson said a 29-year-old man was arrested and released the next morning. No charges were laid.

Court records show Manoakeesick has a history of addiction and mental health issues, and was previously convicted of smashing an electronic display at a Winnipeg Tim Hortons while on methamphetamine.

Manoakeesick was also charged with uttering threats to cause bodily harm against an RCMP constable in an incident alleged to have happened last Christmas Eve, court documents show.

Mounties were responding to report of a disturbance at a business in Carman, where an RCMP spokesperson said a 29-year-old man uttered threats toward the officer while he was being arrested.

A memorial outside the home of Amanda Clearwater's family.
A memorial outside the home of Amanda Clearwater's family.

A memorial outside the home of Amanda Clearwater's family. (Karen Pauls/CBC)

Later Thursday afternoon, Progressive Conservative MLA and families critic Lauren Stone called for an inquiry into the death of Myah Gratton and her involvement with the child welfare system.

"We're talking about a child who died. There needs to be a public inquiry to find out what happened and to ensure that this does not happen again," Stone, the MLA for Midland — which includes Carman — told reporters in the legislative building.

Support is available for anyone affected by these reports. You can talk to a mental health professional via Wellness Together Canada by calling 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 686868 for youth or 741741 for adults. It is free and confidential.