CHIEF CONCERNS – What Kind of City Do You Want to Live In?

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What kind of City do you want to live in?

That’s a question I’d like to ask Children and Youth Opportunities Minister Kevin Chief.

Chief was the victim of a violent attack recently after being jumped by a group of thugs on the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge.  The incident occurred around 8 pm Sunday evening while he was out for a Manitoba Marathon training run.  “I don’t think they targeted me.  I really think it was a really random, stupid thing,” Chief said.

The assault lasted around thirty-seconds.  Chief was set upon by three male and one female assailant, he was knocked to the ground and repeatedly kicked.  His face was bloodied and bruised, his nose broken and two of his teeth were chipped.  This was a nasty assault, a crime for which the perpetrators would be appropriately charged with Assault Causing Bodily Harm.  A criminal offence that comes with a sentencing range up to a maximum of ten (10) years incarceration.  Unfortunately, apprehension of the offenders appears to be the last thing Mr Chief is concerned about.

“For every incident like this that happens, there are literally thousands of good stories and stories of success.  I don’t want what happened to me to reflect on the community,” he said.

It seems Mr Chiefs first inclination was to venture into the world of denial reminiscent of Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz who once said; “I have no problem going downtown, I have no problem going to the North End, regardless of the day of the week, regardless of what time it is.”

I often wonder if anyone else is tiring of hearing politicos incessantly downplaying the harsh realities of our crime ridden City.

Mr Chiefs motivation for minimizing the serious nature of the assault is clearly born out of his desire to counter negative perceptions the incident might create for his north end community.  I’m sorry, that kind of denial is misguided and reckless.

The North end has a serious crime problem, if you don’t believe me, just read the news papers or have a gander at a crime stat map.  That doesn’t mean the community is a wasteland deserving of a shock and awe campaign.  The North end is a diverse community, rich in culture and populated by scads of industrious wonderful people.

Assaults, like the one experienced by Mr Chief can happen anywhere.  It can happen to an off duty police officer walking with his spouse and young son in parts of the City not generally known for its violence. All it takes is a case of beer, two thugs and a large dose of stupidity.

When these things happen you have to decide what kind of City you want to live in.

The choice for me was easy, the thugs who attacked me would learn a valuable lesson after being forced to account for their criminal behaviour.

It’s unfortunate that Mr Chief chose to feel shame and embarrassment.  It’s unfortunate he chose to wait until Tuesday to report the incident to Police.  A prompt call to 911 may have resulted in a quick apprehension and had the potential to put a stop to what could have been a series of similar attacks.  These kind of attacks are often serial or repetitive in nature and can escalate much like the 2009 North end mugging spree that cumulated with the murder of twenty-four year old Joseph Hall.

A prompt 911 call can often be the difference between a public safety triumph or a senseless tragedy.

Even more disturbing than the delay in reporting to the Police is the offender driven concern expressed by Mr Chief.  “I have no anger toward the people that did this to me.  I completely forgive them.  My hope is they reach out to get the help they need and that this doesn’t happen to someone else.”

Alas, no mention of the dreaded word “consequence.”  No concern for anyone being held criminally responsible for launching a brutally violent, unprovoked attack on an innocent citizen.  No arrest, no trial, no prison time, no fine.  Not even any mention of restorative Justice.

Mr Chiefs hope is that this type of thing “doesn’t happen to someone else,” yet he chose to do nothing to influence that prospect.  No 911 call to stop a group of thugs, a delayed report to Police, an ice-cold suspect trail, no apparent interest in a prosecution and a forgiving “hug a thug” mentality.

I commend Mr Chief for having the courage to continue to run across that bridge, but at the end of the day, he has a responsibility to do his part to help make our community safe.

We all share in that responsibility.

Aggressively confronting crime and criminal behaviour forms part of that obligation.

I know what kind of City I want to live in!

ANATOMY OF AN OFFENDER – Time for a Reality Check!

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Are our Courts in tune with society’s reality?

That is a question crime reporter James T recently asked on his blog “The Crime Scene.”

James asks the question in light of a recent sentencing decision by Court of Queens Bench Justice Colleen Suche regarding the killing of James Cruickshank at the hands of Daniel Peterson.

If you do the proper analysis the answer is more than apparent.

Peterson was convicted of Manslaughter after proceeding to trial by Judge & Jury.

He received a sentence “on paper” of nine (9) years in prison.

Peterson spent forty-two and a half (42 1/2) months in pretrial custody and after discounts, credits and coupons, received credit for fifty-two (52) months of “dead time.”

After the dust settled, and the ten (10) month get out of jail free card was applied, Peterson was sentenced to serve an additional term of fifty-six (56) months.

(What isn’t accounted for is the discount on the back end of the sentence that will be generously applied by the Parole Board.)

The details of the crime were horrific, nine powerful destructive blows from a hammer crushing Cruickshank’s’ skull, brain and facial structure.  The Pathologist reported that any one of the blows would likely have been fatal.  Evidence suggested that some of the significant blows were administered while Cruickshank was already incapacitated or unconscious.

In the Police world, we call this frightening level of violence “overkill.”

Are the Courts in tune with society’s reality?

Thats a great question, and because I love reality so much I would like to further explore it.

Central to the issue is how the Courts interpret their role in the administration of Justice.

As Justice Suche puts it “The law does not seek revenge:  the notion of an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth is not part of our society.  Rather, the law seeks retribution; that is, an objective, measured determination of an appropriate punishment which properly reflects the moral culpability of an offender, having regard to his intentional risk taking, the consequential harm caused by his behavior, and the normative character of the behaviour.”

Philosophical wordy interpretations aside, I remind you that Peterson was convicted of violently smashing in Cruickshank’s skull, brain and facial structure and literally beating his brains out with a hammer!

From my jaded perspective, there is nothing “normal” about that.

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

You may have questions regarding what type of person Daniel Peterson is.  Is he a first time offender deserving of leniency? Has he been a contributing member of society? Is his crime out of character?

These are valid questions that one would think should be considered “in an objective, measured determination of an appropriate punishment.”

In the sentencing decision, Justice Suche acknowledges the following statements of fact:

ANATOMY OF OFFENDER – DANIEL PETERSON:

  • Thirty-three (33) years of age
  • Grade 12 Education
  • Has never maintained any meaningful employment in his life
  • Has used drugs and alcohol since he was a pre-teen
  • Has been a crack cocaine addict since he was eighteen (18) years old
  • Has turned to drug trafficking to help sustain his habit
  • Has few coping skills other than lying & manipulation
  • Has several failed attempts at drug rehabilitation
  • Has a poor attitude and behavioral issues
  • Was sentenced to two (2) years incarceration in November 2003 for Commercial Robbery (3 counts), Thefts & Driving offences
  • Was convicted of Mischief in 2006
  • Has committed three violent acts in the past for which he has been sentenced to prison
  • Has shown a complete lack of remorse
  • Has no insight into his crime or offending behavior
  • He violated conditions of his release in the past and was discharged from the Behavioral Health Foundation due to “many” issues with his conduct
  • While incarcerated between November 2009 – September 2012 Peterson was involved in seventeen (17) incidents that required some form of disciplinary action
  • These incidents ranged from cautions regarding inappropriate comments to female staff to formal disciplinary convictions, including five for theft and fraudulent canteen activity, as well as uttering threats, damaging institutional property, and possession of “homebrew”

After digesting all of this dysfunction, is it any wonder that Justice Suche appropriately acknowledged that Peterson was a “high risk to re-offend.”

It seems logical to me that if you can’t control yourself in prison its not likely that you will be able to control yourself in the outside world.

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

In this case the Crown, represented by experienced and capable Senior Crown Attorney Joanna Kostiuk & her second Amy Wood, asked the Court to sentence Peterson to an justifiable total sentence of fifteen (15) years.

The Defense, represented by Amanda Sansregret, asked for a much more lenient sentence of somewhere between six (6) & eight (8) years.

In her decision Justice Suche states at paragraph 19;

“Not surprisingly, I find myself unable to agree completely with either the Crown or the defence as to the appropriate sentence in this case.”

After making this statement Justice Suche inextricably contradicted herself and ordered a sentence that completely agreed with the position taken by defence counsel.  A sentence that will ensure that Peterson does somewhere between 6 – 8 years in prison for his horrific crime.

Do the math;

Pretrial Custody – 42 months

Sentence – 56 months

Total Sentence: 98 months = 8.16 years

(Reminder: this number does not include discount on the back end of his sentence from the Parole Board)

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

In the conclusion of her sentencing decision Justice Suche indicates “I believe he (Peterson) can be rehabilitated.”

She then goes on to give Peterson an inspirational message encouraging him to take the steps he needs to deal with all of his issues.

I would like to know what criteria Justice Suche relied on to come to the conclusion that Peterson was someone who could be rehabilitated or is this just a default position taken by someone who is out of touch with “reality.”  After all, the facts of this case are that for fifteen (15) continuous years Peterson has been a hard core drug abuser, drug trafficker and habitual criminal who relies on criminal activity to sustain his habit.

This time frame represents Peterson’s entire adult life, we are not dealing with a teenaged offender who still has time to mature and develop a new moral code, we are dealing with a thirty-three (33) year old offender with addiction and behavioural issues who is thoroughly entrenched in a criminal lifestyle.

Against all common sense & logic, Justice Suche somehow believes that Peterson is going to be able to turn it all around while he is in prison.

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

The Courts generosity will ensure that Daniel Peterson will be released from prison long before his fortieth birthday.  A decision that ensures the possibility that Peterson will be able to join the growing list of other Canadian offenders who have managed to kill more than one human being in unrelated incidents during their lifetime.

That shameful list is a true indictment of Canadian Justice.

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

Justice Suche is seemingly out of touch with the reality of her own sentence.

This is yet another case that fuels calls for mandatory minimum sentences and elected Justice Officials.

Dismissing Canadian citizens calls for more meaningful consequences for offenders as “vigilantly” or “eye for eye or tooth for tooth” justice is a convenient way to justify the continued degradation of our perpetually soft Justice System.

This really isn’t about an eye for an eye, it’s about protecting the public from hopeless habitual offenders like Daniel Peterson and stopping them from repeating their heinous crimes.

The only important question left for me is, who is going to be Daniel Peterson’s next victim?

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

Is it me or is the answer obvious!

Daniel Peterson is an anatomy lesson in soft Canadian Justice.

Time for a reality check!!!

LINKS:

James T Blog: http://winnipegcrime.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/are-our-courts-in-tune-with-societys-reality/

Sentencing Decision:  http://www.canlii.org/en/mb/mbqb/doc/2012/2012mbqb305/2012mbqb305.html

CRIME REPORTERS – Keeping Us all in the Loop

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This is going to be a weird post…..especially for me.

Since I retired in May of 2012 I have been experiencing the harsh reality of living life in the vacuum.

No longer a card carrying member of the law enforcement community with first hand “real time” knowledge of all things related to Law & Order.

It takes some adjusting.

I now find myself searching the internet for my daily dose of crime and punishment.  The Winnipeg Free Press, The Sun, CTV, CJOB and other sites all helping to quench my thirst for knowledge.  It was during one of my searches that I had a revelation.  After twenty-five years of being on the cutting edge, I now realize that I have to rely on Crime Reporters to keep me socially aware.

The Police and the Press have always been much like oil and vinegar…..not a great mix.   I always kept myself at arms length from members of the media as a means of self preservation.  Police Officers that get too close to reporters can put themselves in compromising situations.  As a supervisor in the Homicide Unit I had first hand knowledge of extremely sensitive information that could make or break a murder case.  I was always firmly committed to protecting that information without exception.

I considered the constant enquires coming from reporters to be annoying distractions, especially during the chaos that ensues after we would catch a “hot” case.  Information fed to the press via the PIO (Police Information Officer) only seemed to wet the appetite of the insatiable beasts.  Reporters calling my direct line, trying to circumvent the PIO to get the scoop.

Crime Reporting is a very competitive, high stress, high stakes game.  Give a Crime Reporter an inch and they will inevitably try to take a mile….

Despite my aversion to the press, there were some collaborations…….

  • Mike McIntyre granted unprecedented access to the investigation into the Manitoba Warriors criminal infiltration of the Government run agency Paapiiwak…….a case I ran as a Supervisor in the Organized Crime Unit…
  • Tom Brodbecks constant reporting on the outrageous two for one sentencing discounts given to underserving criminals every day at our Law Courts.  Unwittingly helping me to keep the pressure on three consecutive Chiefs of Police in my efforts to effect change from the inside……every article written on the subject fired up through the chain of command keeping the issue alive and the pressure on…..both of us quietly enjoyed the satisfying feeling of contributing to one of the most significant improvements in Criminal Justice in the last twenty-five years.
  • Caroline Barghout doing a neighbourhood canvass, knocking on my door looking for the scoop on a murder case that occurred in the area only to be rebuffed by my daughter who felt the need to protect the sanctity of our home.

I always respected the members of the press, I knew they had a job to do…….I just didn’t want to let them into my world.

Now…..it is they who are enriching my life.

I find myself truly appreciating just how important the Crime Reporters job really is.  Keeping the citizenry informed on critically important issues such as public safety, the crime rate, crime  trends, law & order, prosecutions and sentencing.

These things are all vitally important to those of us who choose to be socially conscious and aware.

This post is my way of saying thank you to all the Crime Reporters who work the beat everyday chasing the next big story so that all of us can be informed.  It may have taken me a very long time to get there, but I really do appreciate your work……

Thanks for doing what you do….

FOOTNOTE:

Congratulations to Tom Brodbeck who recently received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his outstanding work and the impact he has had on the Canadian experience.

Find the story here… http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/09/16/queen-honours-suns-brodbeck

Mike McIntyres report on the case against Paapiiwak can be found here…http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/The-case-against-Paa-Pii-Wak-39486767.html

 

SENTENCING INSANITY PART II – Crime Pays in Winnipeg Courts

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Crime doesn’t pay……or so they used to say.

It seems that the old adage has faded into a very distant memory for a Judge who dropped the ball in our latest sentencing atrocity in our Winnipeg Courts.

The sentencing insanity fully exposed for all of us to see by crime reporter James Turner in an article written September 17th, 2012 in the Winnipeg Sun.

A nineteen (19) year old offender with a horrendous record appearing before Provincial Court Judge Mary Kate Harvie on charges relating to a violent strong arm robbery of an innocent female victim outside of a public library last fall.

Additional charges included offences related to an attack on a liquor store security guard.

The offender came before the Court with a horrendous youth record that includes a total of fifty-four (54) convictions for a variety of criminal acts.

One of his convictions relate to an incident that occurred in April 2008 when he drove a stolen SUV into a plain clothes Police Officer in the North End……he is reported to have fled the scene flashing the finger at another cop.

The victim Police Officer suffered a serious back injury as a result of the incident.

The offender…..fully exposing his true colors is quoted by one of his Probation Officers as stating “So what if a ran over a couple of cops.”

Turner also reported that MPI is seeking more than $80,000.00 in damages from the offender for historical carnage caused by a litany of stolen vehicle incidents.

This offender has spent the majority of his teen years in custody in a number of Youth Correctional Facilities.

Turner breaks down the offenders criminal history as follows:

  • Theft over $5,000
  • 10 counts Theft under $5,000
  • 10 counts Break and enter
  • 8 counts Fail court order conditions
  • 7 counts Mischief under $5,000
  • 4 counts Dangerous driving
  • 3 counts Attempted theft over $5,000
  • 3 counts Assault with a weapon
  • 2 counts Possession of property obtained by crime
  • 2 counts Robbery
  • 1 count Assault
  • 1 count Escape lawful custody
  • 1 count Take vehicle without consent
  • 1 count Trespassing
  • 1 count 54 convictions since May 2005 MPI claims outstanding: $81,191.50

Yet despite all common sense and evidence to the contrary…..a pre-sentence report suggests that the offender has made “great strides” in his education during his incarceration.

Judge Harvie is reported to have remarked “Obviously, there’s some tremendous possibility for you.”  She also noted that the offender had “a lot of challenges growing up.”

Alas……another judge buying into the sentencing sob stories….

The sentence…..after “special considerations” taken into account……an incredible ten (10) months.  Not exactly a saw off when you consider that the Crown was asking for a three (3) year sentence in a Federal Institution.

Another dose of brutally soft justice meted out by an out of touch Judge who has failed to discharge her duty and responsibility as a defender of the public.

The fact that this offender used violence in his attack on a female victim….and then used a stolen vehicle to run over a Police Officer……demonstrates to those of us with common sense that he is a criminal who should appropriately be kept away from the public for a lengthy period of time.

Not to mention his cold and callous attitude and lengthy record that demonstrates an established pattern of entrenched criminal behavior.

The attack on a female demonstrates a lack of social conscience and the attack on the Police Officer demonstrates a complete lack of respect for authority.  Add these things together and you have the makings of a very dangerous offender.

I have talked much about mandatory minimum sentences as a way of taking discretion away from Judges like Mary Kate Harvie who fail to discharge their duties….but this latest atrocity caused me to look deeper into the problem for a potential solution.

I have absolutely no doubt that when released, this offender will immediately return to his habitual violent criminal exploits.

My suggestion……

As Judge Harvie saw fit to disregard the Crowns request for a three (3) year sentence…….and ordered a laughable term of only ten (10) months…….lets keep tabs on the offender for the twenty-six (26) month net period of time that Judge Harvie so graciously granted him the liberty to roam our City streets providing him the freedom he needs to continue to victimize our Citizens.

Once the time period expires……lets assess the damage that his crimes cause…….physical, emotional and financial……put a dollar figure on it…..and much like an MPI judgement…..sue Judge Harvie for every penny.

That is called accountability…….an essential element that is currently missing from our Judiciary.  Maybe then, and only then, will the protection of the public truly start to factor into sentencing decisions and start to outweigh the unbalanced considerations that are frequently given to violent, hardcore and undeserving offenders.

I’m sorry……an eight ball award just isn’t good enough for this case.

James Turner article – Winnipeg Sun can be found here; http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/09/17/judge-rejects-hard-time-for-chronic-offender?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=recommend-button&utm_campaign=Judge+rejects+hard+time+for+chronic+offender&fb_action_ids=533732659975994&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

UPDATE:

Tom Brodbeck hits it right out of the park with his latest article on this subject……..find it here… http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/09/18/gladue-or-not-slap-on-wrist-unfit-for-repeat-offender

THE ODD COUPLE – Tragedy Spurs Unique Friendship

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I had a coffee with an old friend the other day.

He’s not all that old really…..and we haven’t really been friends for all that long.  I know, there’s nothing unique about any of this so far…….wait for it……..it’s the origin of our friendship that’s unique.

It was born out of tragedy…..the worse kind of tragedy…….the senseless murder of a son.

I met Floyd Wiebe in 2003 during the investigation into the murder of his eldest son, twenty (20) year old TJ.

It was a bizarre case to say the least.  A murder conspiracy initiated by a love sick teenage drug dealer who wanted TJ out of the way.  Out of the way to eliminate the competition regarding a mutual female love interest, and out of the way because TJ had become a rival drug dealer.

The conspiracy hatched and the wheels put into motion by the diabolical teenager who would manipulate a number of “adult” half wits to carry out his deadly intentions.  With inspiration drawn from the 2002 movie, The Salton Sea, a fictional drama focusing on gangsters, thugs and junkies, the conspirators finalized their murderous plan.

On January 5th, 2003 TJ was duped into meeting his “hit men” on the pretense of a deal to sell some stereo equipment.

The mental midgets executed the plan and left TJ dead in a frozen field near St Adolphe, Manitoba.  The killers would subsequently flee the Province in their attempt to elude Justice.

On January 7th, 2003, the Wiebe family reported TJ missing and did everything they could to provide information to the Police to assist them in their efforts to find their son and brother.

Weeks later, a break in the case.

On January 25th, 2003, uniform Patrol Officers Santiago & Wiebe (no relation) arrested the middle man who was central to the murder conspiracy.

This guy was a major piece of work….a hardcore “tweeker”……a meth head with a history of mental health issues and an unbelievable story to tell.

Thats where I enter the picture, called out from home to work the  middle man with my partner, Detective Thane Chartrand.

Despite his apparent issues, the middle man was able to provide virtually everything we needed to launch a full blown Homicide Investigation…..names of the players, times, dates, motives and witnesses to corroborate various critical events.

On February 5th, 2003, our case led us to the beautiful City of Calgary, Alberta.  A mere 2 1/2 hours after we briefed the CPS Officers, we had both of our primary suspects in custody.

As fate would have it, I was assigned to interrogate the primary suspect, the guy who did the dirty work…..the executioner.  The interrogation would be a challenging one with many obstacles which included amnesia, black outs and an outrageous claim of self defence.  After three (3) hours of interrogation, which included three calls to three different criminal defense attorneys, the killer capitulated and confessed all.  As part of the confession the killer agreed to assist us with locating TJs body once we returned to Winnipeg.

On February 8th, 2003, the search for TJ was over.

Three teams of Detectives started the search in an area previously pin pointed by our suspects, a shallow ditch off of a country road.  Six (6) Homicide Detectives standing shoulder to shoulder shuffling our feet thru the snow trying to find TJ.  Eight (8) minutes into the search I saw a dark patch in the snow that I initially thought was a piece of mud.  As I approached I looked down I realized that this was no piece of dirt.  As I brushed the snow away the reality came crashing down, it this dark patch in the snow was the tread from the bottom of one of TJs sneakers.

Shock, sadness, remorse and relief……all emotions that ran thru me with this tragic discovery.

I have to admit……at times I doubted the story……a bizarre tale of murder told by a bizarre collection of meth heads caught in the grips of their addictions.  All of it true….the only “take away” was the tempered feeling of satisfaction that comes with the ability to bring back a loved one to a family in pain.

Four separate trials later and the Court process was done.

Three of Four suspects convicted of crimes from Murder to Conspiracy.  The teenager behind the murder plot acquitted by a Judge hampered by the YCJA and a dysfunctional “Justice” system.  A result I can live with when one considers the fact that the little scum bag did a total of thirty-two (32) months in pretrial custody.

In the postscript, Floyd, Karen, Chad & Stacy have done a remarkable job finding meaning in this senseless tragedy.  They found a way to honor their son and brothers memory…..a way to keep his spirit alive with an annual fund raiser called TJs Gift.  Since the first event in 2007, Floyd, family and friends have raised approximately $240,000.00.  All of the proceeds go to pier led drug abuse education for students.  Floyd and family have also had a significant impact regarding Victims rights and Justice issues which include ensuring that surviving family members of murder victims have a voice at Parole Hearings for convicted killers.

TJs case also inspired me to develop intensive interview and interrogation training for entry level Detectives with the Winnipeg Police Service.  Prior to retirement, I delivered this training to over two hundred (200) Police Officers.  As a special guest, Floyd provided opening remarks to the participants before the training day started.  I was always amazed at the enormous effect Floyd had on the officers as he put a human face on this tragedy.  He also stole the show at my retirement party where he was our special guest and speaker.  Its not easy to get emotion out of a room full of hardened Police Officers but Floyd was more than equal to the task, he simply blew them all away.

Post retirement, Floyd invited me to join him as a volunteer on the Board of Directors for the Government Agency, Gang Awareness for Parents, or GAP as it is commonly called. We are now inextricably connected and have formalized our relationship as true “partners in crime.”

As I left the coffee shop I couldn’t help but think of what a rare and interesting relationship I have with Floyd.  I guess that makes perfect sense…….Floyd Wiebe is a rare and interesting person.

If you would like to visit TJs Gift Foundation or make a donation to this very worthy cause, go here http://www.tjsgift.com/TJs_Gift_Foundation/Welcome.html

If you would like to visit Floyds blog and learn more about TJ,  go here http://floydwiebe.ca/?page_id=1087

If you would like to visit the web site for Gang Awareness for Parents, go here http://www.gapmanitoba.com/GAP/Welcome.html

EX-GANGSTER GETS LIFE – Give Me a Break!

Winnipeg Free Press online edition Sept 5, 2012 headline “Ex-gangster gets life for prison slaying” written by Crime Reporter Mike McIntyre.

Raymond Chartrand, notorious Indian Posse gang member, has apparently walked away from the gang lifestyle.

Chartrand had been charged with Second Degree Murder for the prison killing of one of my former clients, Sheldon Anthony McKay, another notorious Indian Posse gang member, with not one, but two Murder convictions on his resume.

The first killing occurred in 1992 and involved the vicious throat slashing of a woman whose daughter dated McKay.  As a young offender, 16 years at the time, McKay would benefit from soft Canadian Youth Justice and get a second chance at freedom so that he could kill again.

The second killing occurred on May 26, 2000 and involved another edged weapon attack.  This time, Adrian Bruyere was on the receiving end after McKay led a pack of frenzied gangs bangers on a murderous rampage that caught Bruyere, his brother Nicholas and friend Tyronne Millings “slippin” on Indian Posse turf.

Nicholas & Tyronne would fortunately survive after being hospitalized for stab wounds.  Adrain was not so lucky, as he laid dying on the cold asphalt on Mcphillips Street he suffered one last indignity……his new sneakers pulled from his feet by one of the callous criminals involved in the killing.

As fate would have it, I would recover those shoes for Adrians’ mother.

We investigated the theft of the shoes like it was the theft of the Mona Lisa.

We were able to determine the date, time and place of the purchase, the brand, size, make and tread pattern of those lost sneakers and had great satisfaction ripping them off of the feet of the thief who had taken them from a dying Adrian.

(The scum bag was actually wearing them at the time of his arrest for the killing.)

I spent an exasperating eleven (11) days on the witness stand providing evidence at the trial that would eventually sink McKays’ ship.  True to form, McKay did his best to intimidate me by “mean mugging” and by throwing obscene gestures my way during his trial.

It got so ridiculous that I stopped in the middle of my evidence and brought it to the attention of the Judge who admonished McKay.  Martin Glazer, McKays lawyer, spoke to his little rabid dog and advised the Bench that Mr McKay was simply scratching his nose fully denying that he had made any obscene gestures.

In perfect dead pan style, the Judge had the final word, “Well then, if thats the case, can you tell Mr McKay to stop scratching his nose with his middle finger.”

It was one of those great Court Room moments that I won’t soon forget.

McKay was convicted and upon hearing his fate threw me the “double birds” and shouted a vulgar expletive.  I last saw him doing the “Shawshank Shuffle” down the hallway of the Law Courts and recall remarking to one of my colleagues…….”Theres no way that little shit rat is ever going to make it out of prison alive.”

McKay was truly evil personified.  He was a tiny man standing about 5’6” and weighed in around 160 pounds.  He had “Fuck You” and the Tasmanian Devil “flying the finger” tattooed on his right arm.  He had “Indian Posse” tattooed in large bold letters across his stomach proudly advertising his gang member status.  He was an extremely aggressive, hostile and dangerous sociopath.  Rumor had it that he was virtually out of control in prison…..leading or participating in assaults on inmates (physical & sexual), ordering killings & prison justice,  trying to control all gang members, business and the distribution of cash.

His fellow gangsters had enough of him and took care of business.

This is where Raymond Chartrand enters the picture.

Chartrand and a number of his fellow gangsters entered McKays cell and proceeded to snuff out his miserable life by strangling and beating him.

The Crown sought to have Chartrands’ parole eligibility raised to twenty five (25) years indicating that he was a life long criminal whose record sports a total of twenty (20) criminal convictions.  He had already spent approximately eighty (80) percent of his adult life in prison.  He was not a good candidate for rehabilitation.

Defence lawyer Ryan Amy asked the Court to leave parole eligibility at the mandatory minimum of ten (10) years stressing that Chartrand “has made great strides in his life, including abandoning his gang status.

“Great strides in his life”……”Abandoned his gang status.”

Give me a Break!!!

The truth is Chartrand had no choice but to bail on his gang.

The false promise of gangster life fully exposed in this case.  Hard core gang bangers folding their shit faster than superman on laundry day, turning on each other “muy rapido” style trying to be the first to cut a deal to save their own asses.

Chartrand had no choice…..his world simply collapsed around him.

The sentencing decision should have been a slam dunk.  Chartrand, the dedicated, habitual career criminal has done everything to deserve the sentence requested by the Crown.  The decision, disappointing for the Crown, parole eligibility raised a paltry five years to the fifteen (15) year mark.

Is it just me or does anyone else think that murder is a very serious crime that merits a very serious sentence?   How about murder committed in a Federal Institution where prisoners are supposed to be sent for “rehabilitation.”  When you are capable of committing murder in prison does that not somehow elevate you to super offender status.

Should the Courts not look at that with a bit more condemnation than killings committed outside of prison?

The hopeless romantic in me disappointed with soft Canadian Justice once more.

At a mere thirty (30) years of age, Raymond Chartrand will undoubtedly get another opportunity to kill and put a second murder on his resume……just like his former colleague and mentor Sheldon Anthony McKay.

Give me a break……

”Caught slippin” is gang slang for being caught on the turf of a rival gang.

SENTENCING SOB STORIES – Discounts on Justice

I’ve had this story rolling around inside of my mind for some time now and have been debating whether or not I should write it.  If I write it I’m going to have to share some intensely personal and disturbing stuff.  The kind of stuff that usually stays buried deep inside of the proverbial “family closet.”

In our society, we don’t like to share our dirty little secrets.  Dirty little secrets like family violence, drug & alcohol addiction, sexual abuse, elder abuse, child abuse……this list goes on.

I think the time to put pen to paper has come…….the desire to share the story has started to outweigh the urge to suppress it.

My father was a frightening man who stood approximately 6’2” and weighed between 275 – 350 pounds.  He was an extremely powerful man with arms the size of oak trees and a chest as thick as a tree trunk.  He usually had a thick beard or a goatee and his head was normally shaved.  His personal appearance only added to his scary and intimidating persona.

Unfortunately for those of us that had to live with him, he was an extremely angry and violent man, violent beyond any “normal” person’s ability to understand.  His use and frequent abuse of alcohol only added fuel to his raging internal fires.

When I reflect on the violence, several disturbing incidents remain fresh in my mind, incidents that I have fully processed and even tagged with names.  I won’t go deeply into these incidents but I will provide a brief synopsis so you can put them into context;

THE SLAP

-a vicious random slap from my father on my bare back when I was in grade three, an indelible impression made, a perfect fiery red imprint left of my fathers hand left on my pale skin, the sensation of thousand needles pricking my back

THE STAIRS

-the top of a stair literally torn from the stair case and used to beat three young boys for the innocuous tort of making excessive noise at bed time

THE ICE CREAM CONE

-the promise of an ice cream cone on a hot summer designed to impress a visitor.  Poor foolish boys sitting in a steaming hot car and wait for what seemed like hours while adults have conversation.  Guest leaves, foolish boys anticipating a refreshing ice cream cone told to get the “F’ out of the car

THE DOMINO EFFECT

-a game my father played with his boys on road trips in the truck.  A fake slap causing a chain reaction of heads smashing into each other ….three heads banging together, the third hitting the window and the chain reaction reversed……funny shit, he thought

THE SIAMESE CAT

-the vicious killing of the family cat, slammed to the floor directly in front of the children while the Wonderful World of Walt Disney plays in the background, skull crushed, blood spilling from its ears, legs twitching in death throes

THE BEATING 

-an erroneous allegation of theft, a brother forced to assume a position on all fours, repeated kicks to the face, the witnesses threatened with a similar fate if we ever committed a similar offence, grotesque swelling and bruising, laughter the next morning and direction to stay home from school or “you’ll scare the other kids”

HEARTS

-a family favorite, forced to play, games played in the fear of violence, threats of violence & intimidation, chastised and humiliated for your stupid play…..

THE OPPRESSION

-constant negative reinforcement that “you’ll never be nothin” and that you were not worthy of the food you had on your plate, other peoples children were superior to you, ridicule at any real or perceived failure

THE ANARCHY

– constant beatings with a horse whip in the old stone barn, lashes raining down on my backside and legs with brutal stinging effect, the psychological pain worse than the physical pain, random, disturbing, confusing

– the destruction of self esteem from constant beatings, verbal and psychological abuse, strong feelings of worthlessness and self loathing, destruction of my own image in high school yearbooks

There was plenty more…….but the picture has been painted and there is no need to continue……

That was my reality, that was my life as a child & teen.

You might guess that it is difficult for me to sit thru the sob stories at the Law Courts or constantly read them in the news papers.  Criminal defense attorneys pleading with Judges for leniency for criminals who had it tough when they were children, making excuses for outrageous criminal or violent behavior because they were abused as children.

The same offenders and the old same excuses over and over again, rap sheets growing longer and longer, Judges lapping it up like fat kids eating smarties, reduced sentences and soft justice the result.

It saps my strength.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have heard the horrific stories of abuse and I truly sympathize.  I can relate to them, I can feel their pain.

Stories like the troubled life of Lana Antoine, reported in the WFP July 14th, 2012, by Crime Reporter Mike McIntyre.

As a child, Antoine lived in eighteen (18) different foster placements, was hooked on booze by age nine and suffered repeated physical and sexual abuse by multiple abusers.  She is reported to have done time for several crimes and is a frequent client of the Main Street Projects drunk tank.

She recently stood before the Courts charged with Aggravated Assault for stabbing a man sixteen (16) times nearly killing him in the process.

Her lawyer argued that fifteen (15) months of pretrial custody was punishment enough, while the Crown asked for an additional twenty-one (21) months of incarceration. The Judge reserved his decision to ponder her fate.

Some might suggest that my stories pale in comparison to some of the tragic events regurgitated in the Law Courts and that I am not qualified to offer criticism.

The question then needs to be asked……what kind of abuse is better, or alternatively…..what kind of abuse is worse?

My take, abuse is abuse.

Abuse comes in many forms and varying degrees but it all hurts and damages the people on the receiving end.

No one should ever suffer abuse, but thats not the reality, abuse happens.  If it happens to you, that’s shitty and its not fair but you need to accept it, own it, deal with it and get over it.  It doesn’t give you a lifelong excuse for your behaviour, nor does it give you licence to become an abuser.

What is troubling is that our Courts often give offenders special sentencing considerations because of their status as victims of abuse.  If you follow the logic, I guess that means that we should give more harsh sentences to offenders who come from loving caring homes.

In my mind it just seems to be morally wrong to provide these offenders with life long crutches and excuses to use every time they cross the line and find themselves back before the Criminal Courts.

I respectfully suggest that the principles of accountability, denunciation and restoration should be the Courts primary considerations.

In a perfect world, Manitoba Crown Attorneys would take strong positions opposing sentencing considerations for offenders who come to Court with hard luck stories.

Abusing others, using violence to settle disputes or breaking the law by any other means are all willful acts committed by people that are exercising their ability to make a choice.

I could have made the choice to be an abuser but I chose to break the cycle of violence and be a contributing member of our society.

I would be happy to attend criminal sentence hearings at the invitation of the Crown to provide evidence to refute defense lawyers pleadings for leniency based on the fact that their clients suffered some form of abuse in their childhood.

In the case of Lana Antoine, it seems to me that she would likely benefit from a lengthy period of incarceration.  It might give her an opportunity to reflect on her life and access the many programs offered to offenders while incarcerated.  Anger management, addiction and other educational programs.

If she does the work and makes the right choice her story could have a happy ending.

If she doesn’t do the work and stays in the cycle of addiction and violence……then it seems to me that society needs to be protected from her before she finally kills someone.

At some point people have to start taking responsibility for their own actions…….if not, maybe our Courts should start holding them more accountable for their criminal behaviour.

Enough of the sob stories.