July 23rd, 2024

Assault nets suspended sentence

By Delon Shurtz on February 2, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 24-year-old Moses Lake man who viciously beat an unconscious teenager with a metal pipe more than four years ago, won’t be sent to jail.
Harlin Ray Crow Spreads His Wings, who was 20 years old at the time of the offence Oct. 16, 2016, was given a suspended sentence in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench after pleading guilty to one count of assault with a weapon. Although the offence normally attracts a lengthy jail sentence, both the Crown and defence agreed the efforts Crow Spreads His Wings has made the past four years to rehabilitate himself and change his life warrants the lenient sentence.
Crow Spreads His Wings was initially also charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and mischief causing damage, but the charges were withdrawn Wednesday.
According to an agreed statement of facts submitted to the court, Crow Spreads His Wings and a 16-year-old boy became involved in a verbal confrontation in Standoff. Crow Spreads His Wings, who held a metre-long metal pipe, became angry and chased the boy, Connolly Bird, tripping him with the pipe.
While Bird was on the ground, Crow Spreads His Wings kicked him twice in the ribs and struck him on the side of the head with the pipe, knocking him unconscious. While Bird lay unconscious, his attacker hit him two more times in the head with the pipe, then fled.
Although Crow Spreads His Wings claimed Bird had a knife and he was only defending himself, police never found a knife.
Bird sustained three large lacerations to his head, a skull fracture, internal bleeding of his head, and a broken hand. He was taken to the Cardston Hospital where he suffered from seizures and had to be airlifted to Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.
A medical report prepared by the Centre indicates Bird suffered a traumatic brain injury, but he improved rapidly and on Nov. 7 he was transferred to another part of the hospital for intensive rehabilitation. He was finally discharged Jan. 9, 2017.
“He seems to have, more or less, fully recovered,” Ainscough said during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.
Justice Dallas Miller expressed concern about the joint submission for a suspended sentence, and reminded the Crown and defence that their individual sentencing recommendations were at first some distance apart.
“What happened?” Miller asked.
Ainscough said Crow Spreads His Wings, who was released from custody Oct. 31, 2016 and placed on strict conditions, does not have a criminal record, has not breached any of his conditions and has not been charged with any additional offences.
The offender also participated in numerous counseling sessions and completed the Kainai Peacemaking Program, which combines traditional Blackfoot teaching with principles of restorative justice to help individuals resolve disputes with the law.
Ainscough added that because the young man “has done everything he could possibly do” to achieve restorative justice, jail was not necessary.
A program facilitator involved in the offender’s case, told the judge Crow Spreads His Wings participated in counseling sessions with Blood Tribe elders, as well as addictions counseling, grief counseling and anger management with Alberta Health. His road to rehab also included participating in smudging ceremonies and sweat lodges, during which he showed genuine remorse for what he had done. He also apologized in a letter he wrote to his victim.
Calgary lawyer Jason Demers admitted he had never seen charges this serious resolved with a suspended sentence, and acknowledged “this was a horrible situation that went too far.” But he also agreed this was a unique case and that Crow Spreads His Wings had made significant changes in his life, and now has two young children with his common-law spouse.
As part of his suspended sentence, Crow Spreads His Wings will be on probation for one year, during which he must avoid contact with the victim, report to a probation officer, remain in Alberta and be assessed and take counseling as directed by his probation officer. He must also submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank.

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