An advocate for abuse victims is upset that a man accused in the 2021 killing of his 29-year-old girlfriend accepted a guilty plea of manslaughter after initially being charged with murder.

Brandon McIntyre, 33, was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death of Rebekah Harry but this week he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting a female witness who was present during the beating.

The Crown prosecutor handling the case said there was not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt there was intent to kill, according to media reports.

Harry's death in March 2021 came amid a wave of femicides that shocked Quebecers.

People took to the streets at the time to demand protection for victims of domestic violence and justice for Harry, a mother of a nine-year-old child from a previous relationship.

In response, the government invested massively in prevention. Then, on Wednesday, there was a step backward, according to Melpa Kamateros, the executive director of Shield of Athena Family Services.

"I'm furious. I'm devastated. I'm beyond myself with this type of a judgment," she said in an interview Thursday.

According to a joint statement of facts that was entered into court, in the early morning hours of March 20, 2021, McIntyre severely beat Harry in front of another woman who tried to stop the attack.

"Mr. McIntyre proceeded to kick and stomp the victim as she was trying to protect herself by holding her hands up to her face and her feet up to her body. She was asking him to stop, but he kept on hitting and insulting her," the document stated.

The witness pleaded with him to stop but he swung her out of the way.

Before he slammed her head against the floor twice, Harry spent three days in critical condition in hospital. She died of her injuries three days later.

A pathologist determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and that "the exact number of impacts cannot be established by examining the body."

"You would think that when you do that you know that you are endangering someone's life," said Eric Sutton, a Montreal criminal defence lawyer who was not involved in the trial.

Sutton said without knowing all the specifics of the case, it still seemed like a strong case for second-degree murder.

"Even if you don't intend on killing them, if you cause them bodily harm and do something that is likely to cause death and are reckless as to whether death ensues, you can be found guilty of second degree murder," he said.

Kamateros, who runs her shelter for victims of abuse, agreed.

"The intent to maim was there, the intent to harm was there. He kept taunting her. He could have left," she said.

"He could have left. He could have called a taxi. He could have walked out that door. But he didn't. He stayed and he killed somebody."

After McIntyre pleaded guilty to manslaughter, Harry's family said they were satisfied with the work of the Crown prosecutor, adding that at the end of the day nothing will bring her back.

McIntyre will be sentenced in May. Unlike murder, manslaughter does not carry an automatic life sentence, however, the offence does come with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment with parole.