Judge recuses himself from Coronation area manslaughter case

A Red Deer judge recused himself from ruling in youth court on a joint submission by the crown and defence, and from the sentencing of a Coronation area youth charged with manslaughter.
Judge J. B. Mitchell told the court on March 22 he had to recuse himself because it’s impossible for him to be impartial since he was the judge the Coronation RCMP worked with and brought sworn affidavits to “setting out in considerable detail of what happened” according to the persons who swore the affidavits.
“I can tell you there was conflicting information in the affidavits,” said Judge Mitchell. “Now I’m told there will be an agreed set of facts put to me, which I’m to decide a fit outcome for this young man on this frighteningly serious charge.
“Given that I have heard a whole constellation of information, not all of which is going to find its way into the agreed statement of facts, I’m not superman, I can’t disburse my mind of all the things I have been exposed to in the statements made to me under oath just as if they were given in the witness box.
“I don’t feel comfortable when there isn’t a common understanding. Often a common ground is reached by crown and defence but not here and that’s why I have to recuse myself.”
Defence lawyer Daniel Wilson told the court that he and crown prosecutor Andrew Shatto had reached an agreed statement of facts on behalf of the 17-year-old youth who can’t be identified in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The crown, however, said there wouldn’t be a joint submission on sentencing.
The case was moved the same day to another court room in Red Deer provincial court and heard before Judge J. A. Glass in youth court.
Charges of manslaughter were dropped and the youth pleaded guilty to criminal negligence use of a firearm. The agreed statement of facts weren’t read out in court. Because the accused is a young offender the media wasn’t given access to the document and would have to go through a judge to get a copy.
The judge ordered a pre-sentence report. Sentencing will be on June 19 at 1:30 p.m. in court room 101 in Red Deer provincial court.
The charges stem from Oct. 18, 2017, after Coronation RCMP responded to a call of a male that was taken to a local hospital suffering a gunshot wound to his head. The victim,18, was flown by STARS to an Edmonton hospital where he succumbed to his injuries Oct. 18.
RCMP Major Crimes Unit (MCU – South) assisted Coronation RCMP Detachment with the investigation, which they considered suspicious in nature.

Lisa Joy
ECA Review

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