Winnipeg basketball player ‘not criminally responsible’ for vicious 2017 stabbing

A former Winnipeg basketball player has been found not criminally responsible (NCR) in the vicious 2017 stabbing of his brother’s girlfriend.

The court ruled Oct. 22 that Junior Sesay, 21, was incapable of knowing his actions were morally wrong, due to psychotic delusions, when he stabbed University of Winnipeg basketball player Lena Wenke dozens of times.

Wenke, who came to Canada from Germany to play basketball, almost died following the assault, spending 24 hours on life support. She required months of rehabilitation, both in Winnipeg and in Germany, before being able to get back on the court with the Wesmen.

Sesay himself was a standout at Oak Park High School and went on to play ball with the University of Victoria before returning to Winnipeg.

Sesay’s lawyer, James Wood, told 680 CJOB Monday that Sesay had been experiencing delusions that several people, including Wenke, were part of a group chat that was trying to convince Sesay to kill himself.

The group chat didn’t actually exist.

Judge Brian Corrin, in his decision, said he believed the testimony of experts that Sesay had been experiencing paranoid delusions leading up to the offence.

Medical experts determined that Sesay had thought he was morally justified in committing the offence based on his delusions.

However, Sesay was found guilty on robbery charges related to an auto theft committed when he fled the scene of the stabbing.

Wood said the fact that he was found not responsible for the murder, but responsible for another crime that happened shortly after, is going to be difficult for the public to understand.

“It’s probably confusing to the general public,” he said. “How can a person be found NCR for one set of charges and not another happening around the same time?

“Ultimately, it was a determination of what his thought process was – what his delusions were – in relation to why he felt he had to commit this act at the time.

“This is a situation where they’re focusing specifically on what his mental capacity was with regards to each of the offences. There were no delusions in why he took a vehicle to get away from the scene.”

Wood said Sesay has been returned to mental fitness via medication, and is now aware of and remorseful for his actions. He’s currently in custody and will remain there for some time until his fate is decided by a review board.

“I think the judge was right in following the expert evidence leading to a finding of NCR on the attempted murder, and, of course, he was found guilty of the robbery,” said Wood.

“He will remain in custody and will go before a review board now.

“The review board will determine his future as far as where and when he will placed in (longer-term) custody, and how long it will take before he could potentially have any privileges in the community, what the safety concerns are.

“That’s going to be a long process.”

In a statement, the University of Winnipeg said its primary focus is on the well-being of Wenke, the victim.

“The recent verdict in the trial of a man who seriously assaulted a UWinnipeg student athlete in 2017 brings to a close the legal proceedings for a deeply tragic situation that devastated many in the Wesmen and UWinnipeg communities,” said the school.

“However, our primary focus remains the well-being and ongoing recovery of the assault survivor, who has courageously resumed her studies and athletic pursuits at UWinnipeg.

“Her strength and resilience are truly inspiring to all.”

The university is offering counselling services to any students who may be affected by this case, as well as faculty members, coaches, and staff.

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