By Shurtz, Delon on February 21, 2020.
A man who has been in custody since last summer will remain in custody after pleading guilty to criminal charges Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court.
Richard Prairie Chicken pleaded guilty to drug possession for the purpose of trafficking and failing to comply with conditions of his probation, and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
The charges were laid last August after Blood Tribe police searched a residence in the community of Moses Lake on the Blood Reserve, and reportedly seized 14 grams of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia.
Judge Kristen Ailsby agreed with the Crown’s submission for a sentence of 18-20 months, and noted the starting point for commercial trafficking is three years. She reduced the amount of time, however, based on Prairie Chicken’s guilty plea and the results of an assessment of his personal circumstances, history and aboriginal background, which show he has suffered a lifetime of tragedy and addictions.
The Crown pointed out Prairie Chicken has convictions for similar offences and was on probation at the time he was caught with the cocaine, which justifies a lengthy jail sentence.
His lawyer, on the other hand, argued that while Prairie Chicken was trafficking drugs, it was a low-level operation to support his own addiction, not for profit. He also argued 18 months was too large of a jump from Prairie Chicken’s last conviction of only nine months.
Although sentenced to 18 months in jail, Ailsby reduced the time Prairie Chicken will be in jail by about nine months for time he has already spent in custody since his arrest.
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