January 16th, 2021

Man pleads guilty, sentenced for manslaughter

By Shurtz, Delon on March 4, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

Lethbridge Herald


Stanley Big Sorrel Horse, who was to stand trial this week for killing a man on the Blood Reserve two years ago, has been sent to jail after pleading guilty to one count of manslaughter.

Big Sorrel Horse changed his plea Tuesday in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench and admitted his actions in February 2018 caused the death of 26-year-old Rance Bearhat.

Although the Crown admits it’s still unclear who actually stabbed Bearhat, Big Sorrel Horse admitted he was party to an assault against the victim, which he knew would result in serious bodily harm.

“It is uncertain whether it was the accused or any of the others involved in the altercation who caused the fatal stab wound,” said Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox as he read from an agreed statement of facts.

But, Fox added, Big Sorrel Horse knew that returning to a party in Standoff with two other men would likely result in an assault against Bearhat, and that makes Big Sorrel Horse responsible for his death as a party to the offence.

Just before midnight on Feb. 23, 2018, a man called Blood Tribe police to report someone banging on the door of his residence in Standoff. That person was Bearhat, who shortly afterward police found collapsed on the man’s doorstep.

“They observed a large pool of blood under Rance Bearhat and a trail of blood leading between house 105 and house 104,” Fox said.

Police went to house 104 and saw blood everywhere, but none of it was Bearhat’s.

Police discovered there had been a number of fights at the residence throughout the evening, but because of the amount of alcohol and drugs consumed by the partiers, it was difficult to determine the details.

Big Sorrel Horse, however, got into a fight with Bearhat and another man, then left the party house, only to return with his cousin and another man sometime later. They were allowed into the house and almost immediately Big Sorrel Horse and Bearhat began fighting. The fight moved outside between two houses, and Bearhat was stabbed.

An autopsy by pathologist Dr. Allison Edgecombe determined the victim died of a single stab wound that lacerated the left lung and punctured the heart. Bearhat also had multiple bruises on his arms, legs, back and head.

Although handed a three-year prison term, Big Sorrel Horse was credited for more than two years he spent in pre-trial custody, leaving him with about 10 months to serve in provincial jail. He must also submit a sample of his DNA, and he his prohibited for life from possessing any weapons.

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