May 21st, 2024

Prison sentence reduced again for man convicted in 2013 stabbing death

By Herald on October 2, 2020.

Delon Shurtz
Lethbridge Herald
A 28-year-old man whose prison sentence was reduced following a 2019 appeal of his conviction for second-degree murder, has had his sentence reduced again.
The Alberta Court of Appeal has lowered the 18-year sentence Addison Nickoles Wakefield received in 2019 to 16 years. It’s the second time his sentence has been reduced since he and Michael Stanley Mitchell were convicted in 2016 of second-degree murder.
Both men were sentenced to life imprisonment after they were found guilty in the 2013 stabbing death of Lethbridge resident George Span. They appealed their convictions and sentences, and in March 2019 the Court of Appeal substituted Mitchell’s murder conviction with manslaughter and reduced his sentence to 15 years.
The appeal court rejected Wakefield’s appeal, but the Supreme Court of Canada later substituted the conviction of second-degree murder with one of manslaughter and ordered the case be returned to the trial judge for sentencing. Last October the trial judge lowered Wakefield’s original sentence to 18 years, less time for pre-trial custody and post-sentencing credit.
Wakefield appealed that sentence, as well, and on Friday the Court of Appeal released its decision, reducing Wakefield’s sentence even further to 16 years, less credit for time served.
Justice Dallas Miller convicted Wakefield and Mitchell of killing Span after they went to his home on the night of Jan. 13, 2013 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 the victim, 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.
The latest appeal court decision found that Miller erred by placing the offence in the highest category — near murder manslaughter — rather than a lower category — risk of bodily harm or serious bodily harm — which would have been more appropriate.
“As a result, it was error in principle for the sentencing judge to categorize Mr. Wakefield’s conduct in the top level of the … analysis, rather than the middle level,” the appeal court ruled. “That error had an impact on the sentence imposed.”
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