By Lethbridge Herald on June 23, 2015.
A southern Alberta man who was found guilty of killing a Lethbridge drug dealer, assaulted the same man only days earlier.
Michael Stanley Mitchell was sentenced Monday in Lethbridge court to 60 days in jail for punching George Span in January 2013 while the two were at a known drug house. A few days later Mitchell and another man, Addison Wakefield, went to the victim’s house and stabbed him to death.
Mitchell and Wakefield were found guilty of second-degree murder following their trial last week in Court of Queen’s Bench, but sentencing in that case has been adjourned.
During his assault trial in May, Mitchell told court told Span, 58, approached him while they were at the drug house and demanded money for crack cocaine Mitchell had purchased previously.
“When are you paying me my money?” Span asked Mitchell. “If you don’t pay me, I’m going to come find you.”
Mitchell said Span, 58, hovered over him threateningly, so he stood up from the chair in which he was sitting and took a step backward with his hands up. When Span stepped toward him, he hit him, knocking him to the ground.
“I felt a little worried about his posture. I don’t know if he has a weapon.”
Mitchell, who had been bingeing on drugs and alcohol for three days leading up to the incident, insisted he was acting in self defence, but Madam Justice Sandra Hunt-McDonald wasn’t convinced.
“I reject his defence that he felt threatened by George Span,” Hunt-McDonald said.
She noted that Mitchell is a trained fighter and had little reason to fear Span. Instead, he chose to place himself in the kitchen, through which Span would have to pass to leave the house. He then intended to prove Span couldn’t intimidate him, even though he could have avoided the older man.
“I find there were other options available to Mr. Mitchell,” the judge said.
In dismissing his testimony, Hunt-McDonald also noted that when Mitchell described the event to police after he was arrested, he never told them he felt threatened or was afraid Span might have a weapon.
Although the Crown asked for 90 days jail, and defence recommended 30, the judge split the difference and sentenced Mitchell to 60 days in jail. However, he was given credit for time already spent in custody on the single charge of assault causing bodily harm, effectively concluding his sentence.
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