By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 9, 2024.
A Brocket man who was found guilty late last year of stabbing a 16-year-old boy to death, will have to wait several more months before he’s sentenced.
A sentencing date was expected to be set Monday in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench for Dustin Big Bull, who, on Oct. 26, was convicted of second-degree murder and of causing an indignity to human remains in the death of Tregan Crow Eagle.
Court was told the Gladue report that was ordered following Big Bull’s conviction has not been completed, and the matter was adjourned to March 11 to check on the status of the report, and set a date for a sentencing hearing.
The Gladue report will provide the court with Big Bull’s indigenous background and personal circumstances to help the judge determine a fit sentence.
Big Bull also fired his Calgary lawyer, who was permitted to withdraw from the record Monday. Lethbridge lawyer Miranda Hlady was placed on the record to represent Big Bull for his sentencing.
Big Bull testified during his trial in September that he became drunk July 22, 2020 while drinking “home brew” at a house in Brocket, and after he and his girlfriend left to walk to his house, Crow Eagle followed them.
When they arrived at Big Bull’s house, and Crow Eagle followed them inside, Big Bull punched him in the face, threw him against a table then repeatedly struck him until he lost consciousness.
Big Bull and his girlfriend left the bleeding boy lying on the floor and went to the other house where he continued to drink alcohol and consume drugs. An hour or more later they returned to his own house, and as they walked through his yard he saw Crow Eagle standing under a tree. Big Bull testified that Crow Eagle approached him, and when the two were only about five feet apart, he noticed Crow Eagle was holding a knife at his side, so he pulled out his own knife and stabbed him twice in the neck and three times in the torso.
During closing arguments on Sept. 28, Calgary lawyer Andre Ouellette acknowledged his client pulled out a knife and stabbed the much younger and smaller boy.
“There’s no question that Big Bull caused the death of Mr. Crow Eagle,” Ouellette said, but added that doesn’t mean Big Bull’s actions were criminal and weren’t warranted. He said Big Bull was forced to protect himself when Crow Eagle approached him with a knife.
“He has no choice at that point but to take the steps he did to defend himself,” Ouellette said.
Big Bull then dragged Crow Eagle’s body across a field and dumped it in some bushes.
Crown prosecutor Lisa Weich said Big Bull was not acting in self defence and could have reacted differently.
Weich said there was no evidence to suggest Crow Eagle intended to attack Big Bull with his knife, and as he walked toward the older man he wasn’t holding the knife out threateningly, or making stabbing motions.
Weich also pointed out Big Bull is several inches taller than Crow Eagle and at least 40 pounds heavier and much stronger.
Madam Justice Johanna Price said during her decision that even though there was an “air of reality of self defence” in Big Bull’s case, his reaction was unreasonable and disproportionate to any threat he may have felt from the victim.
Price said Crow Eagle did not threaten Big Bull in any way, and because he was brutally beaten by Big Bull only a short time earlier, he may have had the knife to protect himself. Big Bull could have walked away, she said, or warned Crow Eagle that he also had a knife.
Instead, Big Bull pulled out his knife, stepped toward Crow Eagle, grabbed the hand that was holding the knife, and stabbed him in the neck. The momentum caused them to fall to the ground, where Big Bull stabbed Crow eagle three more times. After he stood up, Big Bull kicked the dying boy.
Price acknowledged that Big Bull was extremely intoxicated by alcohol and drugs at the time, but she said Big Bull’s own testimony suggested he was not so intoxicated that he didn’t know what he was doing.
“He knew full well what he was doing. He was in control of his faculties.”
Crow Eagle’s body was found in a small thicket of shrubs near the wastewater pond on the Piikani Nation five days after he was killed. The body, discovered during a search by family and friends, was covered by a blue tarp, and was near the garbage dump about half a kilometre east of the Brocket townsite.