By Shurtz, Delon on October 26, 2019.
Addison Nickolas Wakefield, who received a life sentence in 2016 for the second-degree murder of George Span, had his sentence reduced to 18 years Thursday following a hearing in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench.
Justice D.K. Miller also gave Wakefield a combination of straight and enhanced credit for the equivalent of just over eight years already spent in custody, leaving him with just under 10 years remaining on his new sentence.
Span’s ex-wife, Tracy McKenzie, is not happy with the new sentence, and blames a faulty justice system for allowing Wakefield’s conviction for second-degree murder to be overturned for manslaughter.
“It’s sad that … we’re living in a criminal society where the criminals are being protected and being given chances where the victims and the victims’ families are being left to fend for themselves,” McKenzie said following the court hearing.
“I believe our justice system needs to be revamped, they need to do something. I commend the Crown, I commend Justice Miller, it was Ottawa, the Supreme Court, that allowed the appeal to go through, so I believe nationally our justice system needs to change. It needs to be more geared toward the victims and the victims’ families.”
Miller convicted Wakefield and co-accused Michael Stanley Mitchell of killing Span in 2013 after the two men went to his home on the night of Jan. 13 and stabbed him several times during a violent, drug-related attack. Although it was unclear during the trial which of the two men actually stabbed Span, Miller said evidence clearly indicates both men went to Span’s home to rob or assault him, and both must be held accountable for his violent death.
Both men were sentenced to life in prison, and both men appealed their convictions. Mitchell received a 15-year sentence from the Alberta Court of Appeal last March following a joint recommendation by his lawyer and the Crown. The appeal court rejected Wakefield’s appeal, but the Supreme Court of Canada substituted the conviction of second-degree murder with one of manslaughter, and ordered the case be returned to the trial judge for sentencing.
Miller said Thursday that while denunciation and deterrence “must prevail” in his consideration for a new sentence, he must also consider proportionality, especially in light of Mitchell’s reduced sentence. In addition to the lesser sentence, Wakefield must also submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank, and he is prohibited from possessing firearms and other weapons for the rest of his life.
Crown prosecutor Erin Olsen argued for a life sentence, and in her written submissions told court Wakefield should “receive the maximum sentence available.”
She also refers in her submissions to a psychological assessment prepared in 2016 that suggests Wakefield meets the criteria for antisocial personality traits in relation to the disregard for the safety of others, irresponsibility and lack of remorse for his actions. The assessment also notes Wakefield meets the criteria to be diagnosed with cannabis-use disorder, and he is a high risk to re-offend violently.
Defence, who recommended a 15-month sentence, had argued that because Mitchell kicked down the door to Span’s house and entered first, Wakefield is less blameworthy and deserves a lesser sentence. Defence also argued for parity and proportionality given Mitchell’s reduced sentence.
Wakefield, who sat in the prisoners’ docket during the hearing, apologized to Span’s family and said he was sorry for the heartache and pain he caused.
“I truly am sorry,” he said.
He said he’ll understand if they don’t forgive him, but he prays every day to be a better person so he can help his son not to follow in his footsteps.
McKenzie, who said she doesn’t accept Wakefield’s apology and believes she will never feel closure, walked out of the courtroom as he began reading his written apology, and only returned when he was done.
“I wake up with a broken heart, I walk around with a broken heart, and I go to bed with a broken heart,” she said outside the courtoom.
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