Jane Davidson is devastated and surprised that a manslaughter charge has been dropped against Matthew Larmon, the 45-year-old Toronto man accused of killing Davidson’s daughter, 36-year-old Katie Niedoba, in 2019.
Still, Davidson hopes her daughter’s death will inspire other women trying to get out of volatile relationships, to not give up.
“I want something good to come out of her death. She was funny, bright, wise, passionately interested in politics when she was sober. She loved her family. She was very much loved, and so this was a real tragedy,” said Davidson, standing just metres from the spot where her daughter was fatally injured nearly two years ago.
Niedoda and Larmon had been dating on-and-off for seven years and according to Davidson, her daughter who had struggled with drug addiction for roughly 15 years, told Davidson just a week before her death that the relationship with Larmon was verbally abusive and she was trying to break it off.
On the night of June 18, 2019, the couple was walking eastbound along the northbound sidewalk of Bloor Street at Bartlett Avenue when Niedoba was either pushed or fell backwards, striking a pipe known as a siamese connection.
“She broke five ribs and the lower one went into her spleen,” said Davidson, explaining it caused her daughter to slowly bleed out and made it difficult for first responders to know the severity of her condition.
Video surveillance played at the preliminary hearing showed the couple walking along Bloor Street, appearing to have an argument. But just seconds before the moment that Niedoba fell to the ground, the video went to black.
Davidson said Crown attorneys argued at the preliminary inquiry that Larmon pushed Niedoba.
But last week, Crown attorneys had a Zoom call with Niedoba’s family and told them there was insufficient evidence to proceed to trial, despite the fact that Davidson said one first responder testified Niedoba told him that Larmon pushed her.
The officer in charge of the case told Global News in an email there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction.
“As with all homicide cases, a great deal of effort was put into this investigation from the beginning and more recently in an attempt to further examine some forensic evidence,” wrote Det. Sgt. Brandon Price
“As it turned out, the new evidence derived from the most recent investigative technique was not definitive enough and therefore left a reasonable doubt. The Crown was then forced to make the ethical decision not to proceed to trial.”
Larmon’s lawyer Ari Goldkind spoke to Global News via Zoom.
“From the point of view of the defence, the time that she (Niedoba) fell back was not captured on camera. It was always maintained that this was a terrible accident, no act of violence, no assault, no intention,” Goldkind said.
“Remember he (Larmon) was never charged with any intention, but at the end of the day, the Crown looked at their case and knew they could not prove it.”
Goldkind said his client spent more than six months in custody and maintains his innocence.
“His suffering and his tragedy obviously cannot be compared to the loss of her daughter to her parents,” Goldkind said.
“The fact [is] there is a young woman who is dead. And these are very tragic and sad circumstances, but quite frankly, there’s no winners all around but Mr. Larmon’s sympathy for whatever it’s worth, has never not been with the family.”
Davidson said the family is still disturbed by the length of time it took for first responders to treat her daughter at the scene that night, based on what they saw on video surveillance shown in court.
“They didn’t realize how seriously hurt she was. The ambulance took a very long time when they got there to transport here. We are all very concerned about the length of time it took to recognize how seriously hurt she was and then to get moving,” explained Davidson, who says the family is seeking a coroner’s inquest.
The family said it wants Niedoba’s legacy to be a scholarship fund which it plans to set up at Sistering, a non-profit agency which according to its website, provides services for “at-risk, socially isolated women and trans people in Toronto who are homeless or precariously housed.”
Davidson said after her daughter’s death, the family also asked that donations be made to Sistering.
Niedoba had gone there looking for help.
“She went there because she had run from her home and had no place to live. At that time, she had lost both of her jobs and just needed help,” said Davidson.
“I want something wonderful for other young women to come out of this, and I want them to know it’s because of Katie.”