By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 1, 2024.
A Lethbridge woman who stabbed two men – one while he was asleep at the homeless shelter – will have to remain behind bars for a few more weeks.
Stacey Leigh Carlson, 33, was sentenced Wednesday in Lethbridge court of justice to nine months in jail, but she was given credit for the equivalent of slightly more than seven and a half months she has already spent in custody, leaving a sentence of 40 days.
Carlson was at the Lethbridge homeless shelter on Sept. 10 when, at about 6:30 a.m., she approached a man sleeping on the floor near her and attacked him with a screwdriver, striking him in the head several times. The victim was able to kick Carlson away from him, knocking her into another man lying on the floor, whom she also attacked with the screwdriver.
The first man received staples to close stab wounds to his head, while the second man received only a “superficial” injury and didn’t require any medical help.
Shelter staff intervened and held Carlson until police arrived.
Carlson was facing two charges each of assault with a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace, but she pleaded guilty Dec. 19 to two counts of assault with a weapon. Sentencing was adjourned to allow time for the preparation of a Gladue report, which provided the judge with Carlson’s personal circumstances and details about her aboriginal background to help determine a fit sentence.
The Crown recommended Carlson receive a 15-month jail sentence, warranted, he said, but the violent and random nature of the attack, and Carlson’s criminal record which includes convictions in 2019 for aggravated assault, and break and enter/commit aggravated assault, for which she received a four-year prison term.
Defence sought a six-month sentence which would complete Carlson’s sentence and allow her to be released from custody immediately.
Lethbridge lawyer Cara Lebenzon explained Carlson was weaning herself off opioids at the time, and that, combined with trauma she was also experiencing at the time, triggered the violent attack.
“I’m really sorry for what I’ve done,” Carlson told court. “I made a promise to myself that I would never touch drugs again, and being in (jail) I’ve had time to reflect on everything that I’ve done, and all I want to do is just be a good person, go back to school, help people that are in my situation, people on the street.”
Justice Kristin Ailsby acknowledged Carlson’s “exceptional circumstances” including her struggle with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, addiction, domestic violence and racism. She also noted Carlson’s parents and grandparents attended residential schools.
“She is the first generation in her family to not have that experience, but nonetheless she carried with it that legacy,” Ailsby said. “She shared with her counsel…how her family was physically and sexually assaulted at residential schools by the very people who purported to care.”
Despite the mitigating factors of the case, Ailsby said she must still denounce unlawful conduct and deter Carlson from committing future offences.
“We also need general deterrence to send a message to the public that this kind of behaviour simply won’t be tolerated by the court or our community.”
In addition to her sentence, Carlson must submit a sample of her DNA for the National DNA Data Bank, and she is prohibited from possessing weapons for 10 years. She will also be on probation for one year following her release from custody.