Man pleads guilty in ‘awful’ assault on Edmonton mother outside daycare centre

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An Edmonton man who strangled a mother of three as her children watched from inside their daycare centre has pleaded guilty to two crimes.

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In provincial court on Friday, 30-year-old Rockie Rabbit entered guilty pleas to aggravated assault and choking to overcome resistance — two of the four charges he faced following an attack on a 39-year-old mother outside Seven Stones Daycare on July 14.

Rabbit approached the mother as she waited outside the locked front door of the daycare centre where her three young children were waiting for her. Rabbit, who had been reported to police earlier that day for suspicious behaviour, had recently used methamphetamine and began to grab at the woman’s backpack.

After a short time, he grabbed the woman’s head in both hands and “slammed” her to the ground, said prosecutor Mark Fernandes, reading from an agreed statement of facts.

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Over the next four minutes, the woman’s six-year-old and eight-year-old children could only watch as Rabbit straddled their mother and strangled her to near unconsciousness.

“They cried hysterically as they witnessed their mother being attacked and strangled by the accused,” Fernandes said.

The attack was captured on a nearby CCTV camera, as well as by a bystander with a cellphone, who called police. Eventually, officers arrived and ordered Rabbit off the woman. He has been in custody since and appeared in court wearing black and orange coveralls.

When first responders arrived, the woman was barely conscious and foaming at the mouth. She regained consciousness after being rushed to the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Her husband, who lives less than a block away, ran to the scene after hearing her screams and was “extremely distraught,” Fernandes said.

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The attack “very nearly caused her death,” he added. At the time, a police inspector described the assault as “awful.”

The woman later told police that before attacking her, Rabbit yelled “did you kill my daughter” and demanded to know where the girl was.

Rabbit’s sentencing has been adjourned to Jan. 26, to allow for the preparation of a Gladue report. The report will examine the role “intergenerational” trauma linked to Rabbit’s Indigenous heritage played in his committing offences.

A community leader told Postmedia the mother had recently moved to Edmonton from Eritrea. She is expected to give a victim impact statement during the January hearing.

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