May 25th, 2019

Great-grandfather denied bail

By Kalinowski, Tim on December 7, 2018.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald

A 61-year-old great-grandfather from the Blood Reserve accused of trafficking in crack cocaine and carfentanil was denied bail on Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court.

Richard Prairie Chicken, who resides in Moses Lake, was charged with trafficking alongside his co-accused Duane Small Eyes after a search warrant executed by the Blood Tribe Police Service uncovered 21.5 grams of crack cocaine, nine carfentanil tablets, oxycodon, assorted drug paraphernalia, prepaid credit cards and nearly $400 in cash at Prairie Chicken’s residence.

Federal Crown attorney Chris Williams argued against Prairie Chicken’s release, citing the mass of drugs seized in the police search and the defendant’s past history of failures to comply with court orders on previous charges.

What made Prairie Chicken’s arrest different from other accused drug dealers’ arrests, Williams argued, was the deadly nature of the carfentanil, in particular, Prairie Chicken was allegedly trafficking. Williams explained to Judge Sylvia Oishi there had been over three dozen overdoses on suspected carfentanil on the Blood Reserve in the past month, some of those overdoses leading to death.

“People who are trafficking in carfentanil are pedalling death,” Williams concluded.

Defence attorney Vincent Guinan of Connolly and Associates argued forcefully that Williams’ characterization of Prairie Chicken did not truly represent his client’s circumstances or nature. Guinan said his client was addicted to all the substances he was accused of selling, becoming a drug addict after a workplace injury left him in constant pain.

Guinan said Prairie Chicken lived on the Blood Reserve, and knew all the individuals or their family members who had died of overdoses in the past year. Guinan argued his client, who is a great-grandfather with no money to his name, should be released on no-cash bail and be allowed to return to his home in Moses Lake under strict curfew and release conditions, including that he actively seek entry into a treatment program to help him overcome his addictions.

In the end, Oishi found the Crown’s argument the more compelling one, and denied Prairie Chicken bail.

Prairie Chicken and Small Eyes are each charged with two counts of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, and single counts of drug possession and possession of stolen property.

Prairie Chicken’s next court appearance will be on Dec. 17 in Cardston provincial court.

Prairie Chicken’s alleged accomplice, Duane Small Eyes, is set to appear in Lethbridge Provincial Court for a bail hearing on Dec. 13.

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