December 19th, 2018

Man sentenced to two years in prison for vicious beating

By Shurtz, Delon on August 10, 2018.

Delon Shurtz

Lethbridge Herald

A 27-year-old man who stomped and kicked another man during a vicious beating in 2017 has been sent to prison.

Trai Dakota Spearchief pleaded guilty Wednesday in Lethbridge provincial court to a charge of aggravated assault, and was sentenced to two years in a federal penitentiary.

Witnesses reported to police that they saw a group of people assaulting a man, who had fallen to the ground during the attack and was unable to defend himself. The group, which included Spearchief, continued to stomp and kick their victim multiple times, and Spearchief was seen delivering “soccer-style” kicks to the man’s head.

The victim’s jaw, nose and check bones were broken, and one of the attackers carved the letter B into his back. That B, Crown prosecutor Michael Fox explained, likely refers to the Bloods, one of two well-known gangs in the area. The other gang is the Crypts.

Although Lethbridge lawyer Darcy Shurtz said Spearchief does not belong to a gang, Fox pointed out the other assailants may be members of the Crypt gang.

The victim, Nicholas Heavy Runner, had a red bandana in his pocket, which is associated with the Bloods, Fox noted, and he is well known to the Crypts. He also has a criminal record, which is recognized by weight, not by the number of pages, Fox added, and he is currently in custody and facing charges relating to a recent stabbing in Lethbridge.

Shurtz told court Spearchief struggles with alcohol – he began drinking when he was 12 – and he was intoxicated at the time of the beating. He grew up in an abusive home, and his father and grandparents attended residential schools, but he doesn’t have a history of violence and he is not a member of a gang, although members have tried to recruit him.

“He’s not a violent individual,” Shurtz said.

Although sentenced to two years in prison, Fox said he initially considered recommending to the judge a sentence of two and a half years. He reconsidered the recommendation, however, after discussing the case with Spearchief’s lawyer and recognizing the young man’s potential.

Spearchief, who apologized in court, is also prohibited from possessing firearms for a specified length of time, and he must submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank.

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