June 20th, 2024

Woman who helped dispose of body awaits sentence

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on May 31, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Claresholm woman who helped dispose of a dead body won’t know for several weeks if she will go to jail or be allowed to serve a sentence under house arrest.

Michelle Lee Toth pleaded guilty in March to one count of interfering with a dead body, but the case was adjourned for a sentencing hearing since the Crown and defence could not agree on a recommendation for the judge.

During a hearing Wednesday in Lethbridge court of justice, the Crown recommended Toth be sent to jail for a year, while the defence said a conditional sentence would be more appropriate. A conditional sentence allows an accused person to serve a sentence in the community, typically with a combination of house arrest and curfew.

Following sentencing arguments by the Crown and defence, the case was adjourned for two weeks to schedule a date for the judge’s decision.

Toth was charged in relation to the beating death of Lane Tailfeathers in a Fort Macleod home three years ago.

On the evening of June 20, 2021, Tailfeathers was at a residence in the 300 block of 20 Street in Fort Macleod with several other people. One of the individuals, Travis Holy White Man, who has since died, wanted to give Tailfeathers a beating to send a message to Tailfeathers’ cousin about a drug debt, and he enlisted the help of Miranda Mae Turuk, Randy Lee Giroux and Richard William Lavell.

While Lavell held Tailfeathers in a headlock, Giroux struck him multiple times in the head, and Turuk struck him in the body and head with a small bat.

Turuk pleaded guilty in April to manslaughter, and was sentenced to just under three years in jail. She was given credit, however, for the equivalent of just over two years she spent in remand custody since her arrest several months after Tailfeathers’ death, which left her with seven months to serve.

Co-accused Giroux and Lavell received the same sentence in March, but they were given full credit for time they spent in remand custody, and their sentences were deemed served.

Following Tailfeathers’ death, Turuk, Lavell and Giroux had to remove a carpet from the home that had absorbed a significant amount of blood. They wrapped Tailfeathers’ body in the carpet and carried it to a detached garage on the property.

Toth, along with another individual, Edward Alexander Goodrich of Granum, was recruited to help clean up the blood and dispose of the body, which Toth and Giroux did several hours later by taking it northwest of Lundbreck Falls and rolling it down a rocky embankment. The skeletal remains were found in the same spot a month later.

Goodrich disposed of garbage bags filled with blood-soaked rags in a dumpster in Fort Macleod. He pleaded guilty in March to a charge of interfering with a dead body, and was sentenced to one year in jail, which was also deemed served by time he had already spent in remand custody.

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