By Shurtz, Delon on June 3, 2020.
A 23-year-old man convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting a woman and cutting her throat, has been released from custody to participate in a residential treatment program in Edmonton.
The man, who can’t be named because he was only 17 when he committed the offences, has been approved to reside at the Stan Daniels Healing Centre, a 72-bed community residential healing lodge for conditionally released and federally sentenced Indigenous inmates.
The case was in Lethbridge provincial court this week, where Judge Gregory Maxwell agreed to move the man back into community supervision to allow him to participate in the treatment program.
The man was sentenced in December 2018 to a three-year Intensive Rehabilitative Custodial Supervision order and two years probation on charges of sexual assault, break and enter to commit sexual assault, threats to cause death and unlawful confinement. He had also been charged with attempted murder, but Maxwell noted there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the man intended to kill his victim.
Following his first year in custody, the offender was released to live in a halfway house under community supervision, but in January he breached conditions of his release order for being under the influence of non-prescribed medication.
He was arrested and returned to custody, but released again in April, before being arrested a second time for failing to follow quarantine rules. He was still in custody when the judge released him this week on a new plan to attend the healing centre.
During his trial court was told that between 4 and 5 a.m. on May 3, 2015, the man entered a southside apartment in Lethbridge where he found the woman sleeping on a couch. He began sexually assaulting her before the woman’s stepfather awoke and confronted him. The man dragged her outside at knife point, continued to assault his victim, then cut her throat and fled.
The woman survived the slash to her throat, but she and her stepfather died of unrelated causes before the trial began. However, in their previous statements to police, the stepfather described the assailant and provided his address. Police searched the youth’s home and found a shirt stained with the victim’s DNA.
Lethbridge lawyer Scott Hadford supported the recommendation his client be released to attend the healing centre, and believes it will help him prepare to reintegrate back into society when his sentence ends in December 2021.
According to the facility’s website, the man will have an opportunity to work with elders and learn about his Indigenous culture, while participating in sweat lodge ceremonies, sun dances, fasts and round dances. Through the Warrior Program, he will explore the effects of personal and historical trauma, and be given opportunities for spiritual exploration and healing.
The case will return to court in November to review his progress.
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