Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sentence increased in child porn case by Court of Appeal

WINNIPEG - A Manitoba judge has increased the jail sentence given to a former Winnipeg community centre worker who was caught with a massive collection of child pornography.

Dwayne Proulx, 47, had already finished serving his three-month stint behind bars but learned Wednesday he now must spend another five months in custody.

Queen’s Bench Justice John Menzies ruled the original penalty handed down in March 2009 by provincial court Judge Brian Corrin wasn’t strong enough. The Crown was seeking a one-year sentence and had appealed Corrin’s decision.

Proulx pleaded guilty to possessing 2,466 images and videos determined by police to be child pornography. Police described his collection as "meticulously organized" and said the images included children as young as three being sexually abused by adults.

Proulx downloaded and stored the pictures on a computer at Winnipeg’s Park City West Community Club, where he worked for 15 years as a caretaker. He later told justice officials he would spend up to five hours a day searching for new images and cataloguing them on his computer.
He was arrested in 2006 after a co-worker found the collection and called police.
Proulx has also been placed on three years of supervised probation and his name will be entered in the national sex offender registry for the next 20 years.

Child porn collector gets another 5 months; three month sentence boosted on appeal
A Manitoba judge has increased the jail sentence given to a former Winnipeg community-centre worker who was caught with a massive collection of child pornography.
Dwayne Proulx, 47, had already finished serving his three-month stint behind bars but learned Wednesday he now must spend another five months in custody.
Queen's Bench Justice John Menzies ruled the original penalty handed down in March 2009 by provincial court Judge Brian Corrin wasn't strong enough.
The Crown had appealed Corrin's decision and was seeking a one-year sentence.
Proulx pleaded guilty to possessing 2,466 images and videos determined by police to be child pornography. Police described his collection as "meticulously organized" and said the images included children as young as three being sexually abused by adults.
Proulx downloaded and stored the pictures on a computer at Winnipeg's Park City West Community Club, where he worked for 15 years as a caretaker. He later told justice officials he would spend up to five hours a day searching for new images and carefully cataloguing them on his computer.
He was arrested in 2006 after a co-worker found the collection and called police.

Proulx has been diagnosed by medical experts as having a form of pedophilia but claims he's never considered having actual sexual relations with a child.
He spent three years free on bail under strict conditions following his arrest without any criminal reinvolvement.
Proulx has now been placed on three years of supervised probation and his name will be entered in the national sex offender registry for the next 20 years.

It's hard to know with sex offenders whether they will re-offend or not as their crimes usually begin minor but sometimes continue further along a continuum which could lead to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and even killing children, in some cases. This man was diagnosed with a form of pedophilia, which is dangerous. I agree with the Judge's decision to raise the sentence to 5 more months along with supervised probation. 

Hopefully when released, this man will accept help and treatment for his problems and someday become a law abiding citizen and never go further with these crimes.  

Victim felt 'raped all over again'

A Winnipeg man whose former girlfriend said she felt “raped all over again” as he personally cross-examined her during his trial last fall should be sentenced to the maximum allowable jail term for a sexual assault, the Crown suggested Wednesday.

Daniel Olenick, 47, was convicted last September of sex assault and forcible confinement in relation to a February 2006 incident that saw him tie up and stab his girlfriend, then later rape her inside the Point Douglas home the couple began sharing just a few days before the attack.

Crown prosecutor Mike Desautels told court during Olenick’s sentencing hearing Wednesday that the attack was “so far off the deep end it defies explanation.”

Court heard the couple had been drinking, smoking crack cocaine and arguing the day of the incident when Olenick suddenly decided to grab the woman and bind her to a staircase bannister with twine. He then grabbed a steak knife, held it to her throat and stabbed her in the arm, hip, abdomen and back.

“She was like Swiss cheese by the end of it,” Desautels said Wednesday.
Olenick then untied her and forced her to cook him some food. He later became enraged again, dragged her to the bedroom and raped her.

Olenick represented himself at his trial last fall, which resulted in him cross-examining his victim about his own actions — with disastrous results.
The woman told court she felt “raped all over again” by the cross-examination and said she’d made a mistake allowing him to question her.
In cases of a self-represented accused, the Crown can be required to call evidence showing why it’s necessary to have a lawyer appointed to cross-examine a victim. In this case, the woman agreed to allow Olenick to act alone.

At one point Justice Colleen Suche said the trial was turning into “chaos” and that the pair were acting “worse than warring children.”
Desautels asked Suche Wednesday to sentence Olenick, who remains free on bail, to a 10-year global sentence for his crimes. That is the maximum allowable for a common sex assault conviction.

Olenick’s lawyer Dan Manning suggested four years for the sex assault with a year concurrent for the confinement charge, arguing the man has no record to speak of and is a low risk to re-offend.
The victim, now 49, did not attend Wednesday’s hearing.
Suche is expected to render her decision Thursday.

First of all, I would like to know why the victim felt 'raped all over again' as the article did not explain what exactly he asked her that was so wrong. The article did not explain the background info / life hardships of the accused that may have contributed or played a role, in his decision to commit this act (unemployment, poverty, addictions, etc.). 

If he has no prior record and is a low risk to re-offend, I agree with his lawyer in that he should be sentenced to 4 years in prison, for the purpose of denunciation and because this was a violent attack. If he has done well on complying with his bail conditions, this would also be reason to sentence him more lightly. In my opinion, I think that 2 years would be even more appropriate than 4.   

Man pleads guilty to home invasion

A 29-year-old man from rural Manitoba pleaded guilty Wednesday to the violent home invasion and gunpoint kidnapping of a Steinbach-area couple.
Evan Woywoda was set to go on trial in late April but changed his mind and elected not to fight the charges. He has been in custody since the August 2008 incident and will be sentenced later this spring.

No details of the evidence have been presented in court.
RCMP said at the time the victims were abducted in the middle of the night from a home in the Rural Municipality of La Broquerie by two men armed with a rifle. The husband was taken first but managed to escape. The accused then returned to the home and grabbed his wife, forcing her into a vehicle and driving her to a bank in Steinbach where she was ordered with withdraw cash.

The woman was rescued by police, who spotted the suspect vehicle and arrested the accused without incident. Neither victim suffered any serious physical injuries.
RCMP believed the unusual incident was an attempted extortion.
Woywoda admitted Wednesday to kidnapping, break and enter commit robbery, use of a firearm and point firearm. A co-accused, Danilo Wiebe, previously pleaded guilty to similar charges and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Regina gang solution touted

Conference told how 24/7 approach helps. 

Only two months out of jail, the man in the low-slung baseball cap and slouchy hoodie stood before 200 people in the basement of the Delta Hotel, took a breath and let a lifetime of gang violence fall away.
"I've done a lot of things," said the 25-year-old, who asked not to be named for safety reasons. "But I'd rather suffer in this life than suffer in the next. I see who I am now, and I see who I want to be."

There was no one epiphany that led him to that realization, the Regina man said. But there was something else: Regina Anti-Gang Services, one of the country's most comprehensive gang-exit programs. The man wasn't ordered to the service by a judge or a social worker. RAGS, which is currently working with 80 clients, is a self-referral agency only. Its acronym itself is a reference to the gang colours which clients drop, along with their old life.

"We're churning out stats on gangs that no one has ever seen before," said Mike Gerrand, 32, an outreach worker with RAGS who was among over two dozen speakers invited to the Communities Responding to Gangs conference, which brought more than 200 Manitobans together to brainstorm new gang-prevention strategies.

As Manitoba struggles to respond to worsening gang violence, could we take a lesson from our neighbours to the west? Now in the final year of its four-year, federally-funded pilot, a final review of RAGS' efforts is pending, but anecdotal reports are encouraging. In only three years, the severity of clients' offenses has dropped considerably, Gerrand said; now, if clients end up back in a court, it's usually for minor probation breaches, rather than violent or weapons offenses.

Saskatchewan youth from 16 to 30 looking to get out of a gang can call RAGS 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year; gang violence doesn't observe stat holidays, and neither does RAGS. That's what has made the eight-staffer program successful, Gerrand said. "A lot of programs are 9 to 5. Social services, and that sort of thing," Gerrand said. "But people don't need help from 9 to 5. A crisis might happen at 4 a.m. A lot of guys have been let down, because nobody provides that intensive level of support we have. When the phone rings, we're there."

At the Delta on Tuesday afternoon, conference attendees gave an emotional standing ovation to the two ex-gang members who spoke on RAGS' behalf. As the conference broke into brainstorm groups, Gerrand and the RAGS team headed to the Broadway Neighbourhood Centre to tour the Just TV program, which recruits 16 youth each year to create music and video projects rejecting gang life.
"This really reaffirms what we're doing," said Just TV co-ordinator Laura Johnson said of the chance to network with RAGS and other anti-gang workers from Manitoba and across Canada.

Was it murder or was it suicide?

Conflicting stories heard on fatal fall 

THE Crown says it was murder. The defence claims it was suicide.

Details are emerging publicly for the first time about the mysterious January 2009 death of a young Winnipeg woman who fell from the 11th-floor balcony of a downtown apartment.
Alinda Lahteenmaki, 23, was killed instantly after plunging from the Manitoba Housing apartment block at 375 Assiniboine Ave. Police quickly charged her former boyfriend, Mario Trunzo, with second-degree murder after consulting with justice officials.

Trunzo, 47, has been in custody ever since while his case moves slowly through the courts. He applied for bail earlier this month but was denied last Friday. Queen's Bench Justice Brenda Keyser cited the allegations against him, plus a history of untreated drug and alcohol issues, as grounds for keeping him behind bars.

"The facts as alleged by the Crown are horrific," said Keyser.
There was no publication ban on the proceedings. None of the allegations has been proven and Trunzo is presumed innocent.

There is no dispute Trunzo and his much younger girlfriend had spent the evening drinking and doing drugs with several other friends, court was told. It is also conceded the pair began arguing. However, what happened next is very much in dispute.

A man who was partying in the same suite has given a police statement, claiming Trunzo grabbed Lahteenmaki and forced her towards the open window. He allegedly lifted her off the ground and dangled her feet out the window. "She was half in and half out and he says 'You want to die b h, go ahead and die.' She kept saying 'no, no' and I didn't see her head anymore," the witness claims. He said Trunzo eventually started yelling for help, only to let Lahteenmaki slip from his grasp.

"He said, 'Die b h' and let go," the witness told police. Another woman who was at the gathering claims Lahteenmaki was screaming for help, pleading with Trunzo to "Don't let go" in the seconds before she fell.

Trunzo tells a much different story, claiming his girlfriend took her own life. Defence lawyer Darren Sawchuk told court Lahteenmaki had made comments earlier in the night about killing herself by jumping out the window and even wrote a suicide note that was seized by police. He also attacked the witnesses who spoke with police, saying they were extremely intoxicated and gave conflicting statements that changed over time.

Keyser admitted there are potential problems with the witnesses but said it wasn't her job to decide guilt or innocence. Instead, she said, there was a "serious risk of re-involvement" in criminal activity if Trunzo was released. Trunzo had put forward a bail plan that included living with his elderly parents, who would post a substantial amount of money as a surety. He also gave a letter to the court from the owner of a local trucking company, who promised him full-time work if released from custody.

"He has many positive attributes, which would motivate me to give him employment. He has great interpersonal skills and qualities, he is a very productive, capable and dedicated, he has a great work ethic. He would be a tremendous asset to my company," Tony Cuda, the president of Tec Trucking Services, wrote in a letter.
Trunzo is set to begin his preliminary hearing on Sept. 27.

This article is very well written and I like how a proportionate amount of space is provided to explain Crown and Defence's arguments. 

Although this man has yet to go to trial, I am leaning towards the defence's theory of suicide. This woman made previous comments and wrote a note and witnesses were intoxicated and gave conflicting stories, which is a problem. 

I feel that this man should have been released on bail. He had set up a plan to get full time work and live with his elderly parents. In the community, he would have a better opportunity to address his drug and alcohol issues. Because of these reasons, I feel he should have been released. The Judge never stated whether he had a previous record or not. Innocent until proven guilty right?  

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bail denied for man accused in deadly fall

WINNIPEG - A Winnipeg man accused of dropping his girlfriend to her death out an 11th-floor apartment window will remain behind bars until he goes on trial.

Mario Trunzo, 47, wanted to get out of jail so he could go live with his elderly parents and start working a local trucking job. But Queen’s Bench Justice Brenda Keyser refused, saying the risk was too high.

Trunzo has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and has been in custody since his arrest on Jan. 30, 2009.

Alinda Lahteenmaki, 23, died instantly after plunging from the Manitoba Housing apartment block at 375 Assiniboine Ave.  The Crown claims Trunzo and Lahteenmaki got into a heated argument following a night of drinking and doing drugs. He allegedly pushed her towards the open window, picked her up and dangled her over the edge.
One witness claims Lahteenmaki screamed for help and yelled "Don’t let go." Trunzo allegedly told her "Die b----h" before dropping her.

Trunzo denies the allegations and claims Lahteenmaki threw herself out the window to commit suicide. Defence lawyer Darren Sawchuk told court she had made comments earlier in the night about killing herself in such a fashion and even wrote a suicide note that was seized by police.

Trunzo is set to begin his preliminary hearing on Sept. 27. None of the allegations have been proven and he is presumed innocent.

This article is good for the most part but I am left wondering what factors led the Judge to believe that he was too high a risk...? This information should have been included. 

Without it, I cannot make an informed decision one way or the other about whether I believe this was the right or wrong decision to deny him bail.  

Murder suspect was held in prison and denied bail

The man accused of killing a Winnipeg father last weekend was released from jail in January after the Crown stayed domestic assault charges against him.
Darren James Hall, 23, was arrested Saturday and charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of 44-year-old Garth Isfeld, who was killed during a party at his North Kildonan home early Saturday morning.
According to court documents, Hall was being held on charges of assault with a weapon at Milner Ridge Correctional Centre until he had the charge stayed Jan. 19. The charge relates to an incident that occurred Nov. 19 at his girlfriend’s home on Maryland Street.
According to the transcript of a bail hearing that occurred shortly after the incident, Hall — who was on probation for a previous charge at the time — apparently arrived at the home around 2 a.m. to learn his brother had allegedly kissed his girlfriend, whom he’d been dating about two months. The Crown alleged at the time that Hall pushed, grabbed, punched, and kicked her and slapped her across the face with a 15-inch plastic shoehorn. The Crown alleged the attack lasted four hours.
Hall was denied bail — the judge cited his history of disobeying court orders — and was set to go to trial on the charges April 28.
However, in mid-January, his girlfriend filed a hand-written letter recanting her story, claiming she and Hall had consumed so much alcohol and so many drugs that night “we weren’t ourselfs (sic).”
A spokeswoman for Manitoba Justice said the Crown dropped the charges shortly thereafter because “there was insufficient evidence to make conviction a likelihood” but did not provide any further detail.

So what did the defence allege? This article is biased as it only mentions the Crown's allegations which makes it assume that this man is guilty. People seem to forget about innocent until proven guilty. 

I do agree with the decision of denying bail though, as he has a record of disobeying court orders. 

Several injured and four stabbed in bar brawl

Several people were injured during a brawl, including four who were stabbed in the upper body, late Monday night, said Winnipeg police.
The fight, which involved at least 20 people outside a downtown Winnipeg bar, sent the four stabbing victims to hospital in stable condition, said police.
Witnesses said they saw a large group of men trading threats, punches and kicks during the wild melee near Kennedy Street and Ellice Avenue.
The group scattered shortly before police arrived but at least one injured man who was left behind was loaded on to a stretcher by paramedics and taken to hospital by ambulance, witnesses said.
The fight occurred when people spilled out of the Lo Pub inside a Hostelling International (HI) hostel, known as the HI Downtowner.
About 80 people were attending a performance by a Vancouver hip hop group, said pub manager Jack Jonasson.
Jonasson said he and a promoter were outside speaking to a man who was upset about something when 15 to 20 people exited and the fight began.
“He was upset because there was another guy at the bar who was a friend of his and there was a conflict,” Jonasson said. “From what I understand the conflict was based on an incident that happened (previously).”
Jonasson said the upset man didn’t explain the incident to him. That man was involved in the fight.
Jonasson said he ran inside and got the front desk clerk to call 911 while the fight moved off site.
Alice, a witness, said people were yelling threats as the violence erupted.
About 50 people were outside, including the people who were brawling, she said.
She said one man was knocked to the ground and swarmed by about three or four people, who repeatedly kicked him about the body.
“It was intense. It was insanely loud,” Alice said. “It was pretty freaky. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
Before this, the hostel and pub had a spotless record in its two-plus years in business.
“This is the first thing that’s happened here, any sort of violence in the bar,” Jonasson said. “It’s not something I thought I would see here.”
There was no sign of trouble inside the pub before the fight, Jonasson said.
The brawl occurred during a promotion called Mass Appeal Mondays, a night dedicated to hip hop music.
Jonasson said the performance didn’t draw the usual Monday night crowd.
This crowd came out specifically for the musical act, he said.
“We didn’t recognize anybody,” he said. “On any given night I know 80% of the people coming in.”
The hostel, formerly a seedy hotel, and bar have gone to great lengths to change the building’s reputation and clientele and give it a safe, community atmosphere, Jonasson said.
“We’re very proud of the fact that this is a place where people can come and feel comfortable,” he said.
For now, the pub isn’t holding Mass Appeal Mondays, Jonasson said.
He said the venue will review the incident to determine what, if any, steps can be taken to avoid a similar incident.
No arrests have been made.

Four hurt in brawl of 20 fighters

WINNIPEG — Four men were taken to hospital in stable condition after a brawl outside a popular downtown pub last night.
Winnipeg police said they received a fight call at 11 p.m. Monday at Ellice Avenue and Kennedy Street, outside the Lo Pub. Police said this morning about 20 people were involved in the melee.
The Free Press is looking for further information on the overnight brawl at Ellice Avenue and Kennedy Street.  Please email city.desk@freepress.mb.ca or phone 697-7292
Four men aged 21 and 22 suffered stab wounds and were taken to hospital with laceration injuries. No one was taken into custody. Police said the investigation is continuing.
Jack Jonasson, the Lo Pub’s owner, said about 70 people went to Lo Pub to watch a Vancouver group perform there. Many were friends and family of the performers, he said.
Jonasson said the fight broke out slightly off the Lo Pub property after one man who was outside with a handful of friends began facing off with another group of people. The crowd slowly edged off to a few metres south-east of the pub’s main entrance, near a sculpture.
He said about 15 people began involved kicking and punching each other until police showed up about five to ten minutes later. He said he saw one person taken into custody, but did not see any weapons.
Jonasson said the pub's weekly Monday hip-hop night will now be cancelled. The event kicked off about four months ago, he said.
He said the bar has held hundreds of events without problems.
"It’s unfortunate that this happened," he said.

Bar manager cancels hip hop nights after stabbings outside club
A Kennedy Street bar manager said he's cancelling hip-hop music nights after several people were stabbed near the downtown establishment early Monday morning.
The brawl involved an estimated 20 to 25 people, a witness said.
Four men went to hospital with stab wounds, although all were listed in stable condition.
Jack Jonasson, the Lo Pub's manager, said the fight broke out outside the club after a crowd of about seven to nine men began kicking and punching another 10 to 15 men who exited the club.
The Lo Pub is located inside the Hostelling International Winnipeg Downtowner, at the corner of Kennedy and Ellice Avenue. For about five minutes, the men clashed in a small park area beyond the southeast corner of the hostel's property on Webb Place.
"We're going to take a look at the situation and try to figure out what we can do to make sure it never happens again."
Jonasson said that might mean getting more security. On Monday night, five staff were working.
He said the crowd of about 70 people who came to see a Vancouver-based group called the Boombox Saints were "far removed" from the bar's usual clientele.
As the band set up to play its show inside around midnight, he said he heard about an upset man outside the bar.
Jonasson said he went outside and tried to calm the yelling man. "I couldn't make out what it was that he was upset about," he said.
Within two minutes, he said a larger group exited the bar and the fight began between two groups before some participants fled the scene.
A local club website advertised an event called Mass Appeal Monday, which featured a string of hip-hop acts for a $7 entrance fee, including the Boombox Saints.
Lexani Llaguno, the group's Vancouver-based manager, said none of the Boombox Saints members was involved in the fight or injured. Jonasson said the event is a blow to the local hip-hop scene he's tried to build with weekly events over the last four months.

Manitoba Warriors sentenced to prison for alleged attack

Manitoba Warrior jailed for attack

TWO Manitoba Warriors gang members have pleaded guilty to their role in an attack which saw a man get beaten, stabbed and tossed out a third-floor window.
Russell Warren Disbrowe, 45, and Mervin Frankie Flett, 38, were sentenced to four years in prison Monday following a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers.
The victim, Gerald Marsden, suffered extensive injuries in August 2008 including a broken arm and leg. He also has permanent scars throughout his body. Marsden admits he once belonged to the Manitoba Warriors but left the gang for a fresh start.
Marsden said trouble began after he was called to a Maryland Street apartment block by his brother, who asked him to guard some stolen property. He said he was alone inside the suite when three men burst inside carrying a crowbar, a baseball bat, a beer bottle and piece of wood.
"They told me 'You're gonna die tonight, pray to Jesus'," Marsden testified at a previous hearing. He identified Disbrowe and Fleet but didn't know who the other attacker was.
Former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Colin Scrivener was also charged in the incident but was set free at a preliminary hearing earlier last year after a judge decided there was insufficient evidence against him.
Lawyers for Disbrowe and Flett told court Monday their clients admit beating Marsden but claim it was the "unidentified" third man who threw him out the window.
Crown attorney Geoff Bayly said he was forced to strike a plea bargain because Marsden was now refusing to co-operate with the justice system and has given several different versions of his story. There were also problems with other potential witnesses.
Both Disbrowe and Flett have spent approximately 18 months in custody, which was given double-time credit, leaving them with just under a year to serve.

This article implies that these two men were definitely guilty of the attack and of throwing the other man out of the window, when really, it might have been the third unidentified man, who threw him out the window, but the article only mentions this briefly. The article also does not say what charge the men pleaded guilty to! That is very relevant information that was missed. Also, it does not mention many details of the attack, the victim’s possible role in what happened, was the victim provoking the other men?, or explaining why he was now providing court with different versions of his story. The article did not explain what the other versions were and how they differed from the version they explained in the article. It also does not discuss events leading up the attack and mitigating circumstances of the men. It does discuss the offenders’ background life circumstances (poverty, immigrants, unemployment, lack of education, etc.) or addictions which may have contributed or fuelled the attack. 

Since I don’t know what charge these men pleaded guilty to or their background lives and mitigating circumstances, I cannot say for sure whether I agree or disagree with this sentence.

Crown breaks down while describing impact of sexual assault on victim

A Manitoba Crown attorney wept Monday as she described how a rape victim has been devastated by the attack.
Jocelyn Ritchot had to pause several times as she struggled to read a statement on behalf of the woman, whose 46-year-old former boyfriend pleaded guilty to several charges. He was sentenced to three years in prison in addition to 18 months of time already served. His name isn't being published to protect the identity of the victim.
"I trusted you. I cared for you. I only wanted the best for you. Why, why, why?" the woman wrote. "Emotionally I felt dirty, used, guilty that somehow I allowed it to happen, and very degraded. I feel like my soul has been robbed."
The victim -- who wasn't present for the sentencing hearing -- began dating the man after they met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in 2007, court was told. They ended their romance in July 2008 but continued to be friends. However, everything changed when the woman went to his Beausejour-area home in September 2008 and found him intoxicated.
"I wanted to help him. I felt sorry for him. Then it became a nightmare," she wrote.
The man put duct tape over her face, bound her hands and legs together and then sodomized her. He also demanded she call her 18-year-old daughter to come over so he could sexually assault her while she watched. She was repeatedly beaten when she refused. The man also threatened to hit her with a lead pipe.
"No mother should ever be put in that position," Ritchot told court. "He had no regard for the feelings or personal integrity of the victim."
The man eventually untied his victim and allowed her to escape the house, telling her "I have nothing left in my life... I belong in jail."
"I no longer had any personal control. I was at his mercy. I looked into his eyes and could see nothing," the woman recalled in her victim impact statement. "My whole world changed absolutely when that duct tape came out."
The woman said she was unable to cope with the physical and emotional damage she suffered and began drinking again to mask her pain. She also had to quit her job.
"I despise myself for starting to drink again," she said.
The man has a previous criminal history, including a similar sexually motivated attack on his former wife in 2004. He also met her at an AA meeting, court was told.
Defence lawyer Manny Bhangu said his client is sorry for the harm he caused his former girlfriend.
"This was definitely a situation that was fuelled by alcohol," he said.
The man's sentence was a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers.

This article does not spend enough time talking about the offender and his previous background life, history of alcohol addictions and more of the arguments from Defence. It’s clear that this man had alcohol addictions and attempted to seek help through AA, on more than one occasion. This should have been acknowledged. 

This man says that he has nothing left in his life. This article does not delve deeper into the possible reasons why he said this.
It also does not provide enough information on his previous criminal history. Was he found guilty of that offence? What were the events leading up to it? Was it violent, etc.? Not enough is known about the previous attack, for it to have any relevance in this man’s guilt.

Throughout the article, it is implied that this man had intent to harm this woman, when he may not have. I believe that this attack was fuelled by alcohol and that putting this man in prison, is just a lazy response to dodge the issues of alcohol addiction. This man needs more intensive help, in my opinion, such as a residential alcohol treatment program of some sort. It also does not say whether he was employed, lived in poverty, etc. and other mitigating circumstances. 

I understand that he plead guilty but I feel that he should have gotten 2 years less a day combined with probation, to help in addressing his addictions.

Just because a jury convicted three men, does not mean they are definitely guilty of the crime..

Accomplice to appeal
The three men convicted in the 2006 stabbing death of 24-year-old Red River College student Minh Hong Huynh were all handed prison terms Monday, with one already planning to appeal.
Glen Monkman, 39, was convicted by a jury last month of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing Huynh outside the former Main Street bar Club Desire on April 30, 2006. Carlos Tavares, 30, and Norris Ponce, 31, were convicted by the same jurors of manslaughter for their roles in the crime, which the Crown said involved “encouraging and assisting” Monkman.
Justice Brenda Keyser sentenced all three to jail time Monday.
Monkman was handed an automatic life sentence, as are all offenders convicted of murder. He will not be eligible for parole for 12 years, which is part way between the Crown’s suggestion of 15 and the defence’s preference of the minimum 10. Keyser heard the sentencing arguments earlier this month.
Tavares was given a seven-year sentence, minus two years for time served, leaving five to go.
Ponce got a four-year sentence minus two years for time served. Both of their sentences fell between the terms suggested by the Crown and defence at the sentencing hearing.
Tavares told the gallery as he was leaving court Monday that he hopes to appeal. He did not say whether he intends to appeal his conviction or his sentence.
During the trial earlier this year, court heard the accused believed Huynh had previously stabbed Tavares at a wedding social.
Tavares’ cousin Danny Simao testified the men had plotted to go to Club Desire and attack Huynh when they learned he was there the night of the fatal stabbing. Jurors heard evidence Huynh was on steroids and high on cocaine when he started picking fights with several people outside the nightclub, including a man believed to be Ponce. Witnesses said that’s when Monkman intervened and stabbed Huynh in the face and chest.
The 24-year-old later died from his wounds.

I am definitely seeing some bias in this article. First of all, the title says "accomplice to appeal," when it should say "alleged." Just because a jury convicted this man, does make him 100% guilty as I feel that the Crown did not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Second, "for their roles in the crime," also implies that these men definitely HAD roles in the crime, when they may not have. Again, just because 12 people "agree" that they did, does not mean it's 100% true.

This article only states the Crown's opinion that these men were "encouraging and assisting Monkman." Nowhere, does it state what the Defence lawyers argued, which is also important information, in order for a reader to make an informed opinion. 

The article talks about what Simao testified but does present any of the counter arguments made by Defence lawyers, which is biased. There were countless contradictions and inconsistencies in his testimony and defence argued that he was unreliable and 100% untrustworthy. This should have been mentioned. 

The article also does not include any background information on the three accused and how the sentence will greatly impact their families. They are victims also. All of these men have families and children and they showed remorse. 

Three sentenced in stabbing death 
Three men were convicted of killing a Winnipeg student outside a downtown bar, but they left court Monday with vastly different sentences for their roles in the 2006 attack.
Glen Monkman, 39, was given a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 12 years after being found guilty by a jury last month of second-degree murder.
Carlos Tavares, 31, received five years in prison in addition to one year of time already spent in custody. Norris Ponce, 31, was given two years in jail, in addition to one year of time served. Both men were convicted of manslaughter.
All three accused had originally been charged with first-degree murder.
Ming Hong Huynh, 24, was knifed outside Club Desire on Bannatyne Avenue in April 2006.
Monkman admitted stabbing Huynh four times in the chest and cheek with a small knife while horrified bystanders watched, but claimed he should only be found guilty of manslaughter based on the fact he was provoked.
Ponce was accused of distracting Huynh on the street before the stabbing. Tavares was accused of driving the getaway vehicle. Lawyers for both had argued there was no credible evidence linking them to the attack.
The key issue at trial was whether the jury believed the testimony of the Crown's star witness, Danny Simao, who claims he overheard a plan to kill Huynh while inside a car with the three accused. Defence lawyers argued at trial that Simao was a proven liar.
The Crown argued the accused planned the attack as revenge for another stabbing that happened at a wedding social in March 2006.
Before the attack, court heard Huynh was wandering around shirtless outside the club. His girlfriend, Angie Pfeifer, testified Huynh used steroids and cocaine. The Red River College business administration student was intoxicated and looking to fight anyone who crossed his path, she said.

The headline is biased in this article. It says "three sentenced in stabbing death" which implies that all three men were involved in the death, when really, that may not be the case. 
It also does elaborate on the contradictions and inconsistencies in Simao's testimony and only presents the Crown's opinion. 
In the beginning it says, ".. the their roles in the 2006 attack" which also implies that they are all guilty of playing a role, when that may not be true. Just because a jury convicts, does make it a definite fact. That is the author's opinion that they all played a role. 

As I said in my previous blog posts, I completely disagree with the verdicts first of all. How can a jury convict, when the key witness is unreliable and untrustworthy? I figure that some of them must have conformed to the dominant position of the group, because I don't see how any reasonable person could believe anything he said. Ponce and Tavares should have been acquitted. 

I also disagree with the sentences of Ponce and Tavares. Ponce has a wife and two children to support. I believe 100% that he was not involved in this and did play any role. He told me specifically that he was afraid and nervous of being wrongfully convicted. Guess what? He was. Ponce had been on bail for at least a year prior to the trial and followed all of his conditions. This shows that the Judge should have considered all other alternatives before imprisonment, as stated in the Criminal Code, and realized that prison was not the least restrictive sanction. I believe that a conditional sentence of 2 years should have been imposed. 

I also disagree with Tavares' sentence of 5 years. I also believe that he had no role in this attack and should also have been sentenced to a conditional sentence.  

Paramedics defend dad's walk to ambulance

Paramedics defend dad's walk to ambulance

In spite of criticism from the family of the city’s second murder victim of the year, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service brass say the call was handled properly.
Family members of Garth Isfeld, 44, who was struck with a beer bottle early Saturday morning outside his North Kildonan home and died later in hospital, told media Sunday they were not pleased paramedics did not drive right up to his home and questioned why Isfeld walked to the attending ambulance.
Christian Schmidt, assistant chief of operations for Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, said departmental policies were followed.
“It would appear the call was handled appropriately,” Schmidt said. “It would appear that, in the review of the patient care record, the care was appropriate.”
Stuart said paramedics briefly parked several blocks from the Stuart Avenue home until police secured the potentially hostile scene, as is department procedure, and then drove as near as possible to the home.
He said numerous police and fire department vehicles were blocking the ambulance’s way to Isfeld’s home.
Despite successfully having several emergency vehicles moved, Schmidt said the ambulance could only get to the intersection of Stuart and Pentland Street, several houses down the street from Isfeld’s.
Schmidt said the initial call came in at 12:30 a.m. and that paramedics arrived at Pentland and Stuart 15 minutes later, when a police officer walked Isfeld to the ambulance.
The assistant chief said paramedics completed a full-body survey on Isfeld in the ambulance, as is standard procedure, to look for potentially life-threatening injuries and assess vital signs. Isfeld was transported to hospital at 1:10 a.m. in stable condition.
He died in hospital later Saturday. Isfeld’s family had been critical of paramedics, questioning why he wasn’t taken to ambulance on a stretcher and why he wasn’t immediately transported to hospital once inside the ambulance.
Darren James Hall, 23, of Winnipeg was arrested later Saturday and has been charged with manslaughter in Isfeld’s death.
Schmidt said further review of the incident will be undertaken with department officials.

As I reading this article, I really couldn't find any noticeable biases. The author presented the facts and opinions of others but did not seem biased towards either side of the argument. Well written!
I feel that the paramedics did follow procedure in this case because it was initially reported that a gun was involved and they followed standard procedure.

Ambulance waited for police

He was hit on the head with a beer bottle, walked to an ambulance, then later died in hospital.
Garth Isfeld's family says they are unhappy with how he was treated, but a top Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) official said employees handled the case correctly.
WFPS assistant Chief of Operations Christian Schmidt said Monday an ambulance crew had to sit about four blocks from the house where the man awaited help because a 911 call indicated gunshots had been fired. In potentially dangerous situations, paramedics and fire officials must wait nearby until police ensure the scene is safe, he said.
He said paramedics did the right thing by not entering a potentially dangerous situation without police clearance.
"Our staff are not police officers. They do not carry equipment with them for self-defence," he said.
Isfeld, 44, died in hospital on the weekend after he got into a fight with a party crasher at a Stuart Avenue birthday party, witnesses said. Emergency personnel were near Stuart Avenue within 10 minutes of the call, Schmidt said.
Once police gave the all-clear, about five minutes after the ambulance arrived, the route was blocked by a police car and fire department vehicle which had to be moved. When the ambulance reached Pentland Street at Stuart Avenue -- about 30 metres away from the house -- a police officer and Isfeld walked to the ambulance.
Family members of Isfeld said they thought it was wrong their father had to walk to the paramedics. Isfeld's daughter said there were eight to 10 police vehicles near the Stuart Avenue home and the ambulance could have come closer to meet him.
"They shouldn't have been that far... there was room. There was obviously room," said Stephanie Krasnesky, 18.
Relatives also said paramedics should have used a stretcher to carry Isfeld to the ambulance, and medical personnel did not rush him to hospital fast enough.
Schmidt said paramedics arrived at hospital at about 1:10 a.m., about 40 minutes after the 911 call and 25 minutes after paramedics initially encountered Isfeld.
Police arrested and charged 23-year-old Darren James Hall with manslaughter. Isfeld is the second homicide victim of the year in the city.
Police did not comment on the incident Monday on their handling of the incident.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Accused in killing father of 5, was previously accused of domestic-violence but charges stayed

Crown stayed domestic-violence charge in January

A man accused of killing a Winnipeg father outside his home on the weekend was released from jail Jan. 19 after prosecutors dropped an unrelated domestic-violence charge against him.
Darren James Hall, 23, who is accused of manslaughter, made a court appearance Monday in connection to the death of Garth Isfeld, 44. He remains in custody.
Isfeld died on Saturday after an early-morning confrontation outside his Stuart Avenue home where he was hosting a barbeque party for one of his five children.
Police believe he was hit over the head with a beer bottle that resulted in injuries leading to his death. Hall was charged on Sunday.
CBC News has obtained court documents showing that about two months prior to Isfeld's death, Hall was released from Manitoba's Milner Ridge Correctional Centre.
He was being held facing a charge of assault with a weapon based on a criminal complaint from his girlfriend, but the Crown elected to stay the charge against him.
The Crown's decision to drop the charge came two months after Hall was denied bail by a provincial court judge.
At the Nov. 20 bail hearing, the Crown said that Hall's girlfriend gave a statement to police alleging that he had repeatedly physically assaulted her over a four-hour period.
There was no publication ban on the hearing.
The Crown was opposed to Hall being set free pending trial.
The Crown alleged that despite the woman's efforts to flee her Maryland Street home during the attack, Hall pulled her back up a flight of stairs and threw her on a table.
She also told police her attacker used a 15-inch long plastic shoehorn as a weapon, prosecutors said.
The Crown said police officers called to the woman's home noted a number of physical injuries, including a golf-ball sized abrasion below her right ear.
In her statement to police, the woman told them that "she was extremely fearful" of Hall, the Crown told Judge Tim Preston during the hearing.
Court documents show that after being denied bail, Hall applied to have that decision reviewed by a higher court judge, saying circumstances of the case had changed.
The bail review was cancelled after the Crown stayed the charge against him on Jan. 19.
The charge was stayed on what's known as the "office docket," meaning it happened behind the scenes and not in front of a judge in a courtroom, according to provincial court records. A Crown representative said she did not recall the case but would be looking into it.

Girlfriend recants allegations

Documents show it's possible the Crown chose not to proceed with prosecution after Hall's girlfriend submitted a letter to the courts recanting her earlier statement to police.
In the handwritten, one-page document, the woman said her injuries were caused by trying to break up a booze and drug-fuelled dispute between Hall and his brother.
"Darren wasn't hitting or slapping me," the woman wrote. "If anything on my face was there, it would have been from getting in between them," she said.
"Darren is sitting in jail because by the time the cops showed up, I had so many mixed emotions … I wasn't even in my own state of mind once I was giving my statement.
"So I hope that this letter helps Darren Hall get out so he can be back at home with me," she wrote.
Under Manitoba law, prosecutors have one year to reinstate the charge against Hall.

First of all, the headline of this article, implies that this man has already served a sentence for another charge, when later in the article, they say that the charges were stayed and he was awaiting trial on another charge. 

The article fails to mention anything about the accused's background life (addictions, poverty, unemployment), that might be mitigating factors in this crime. 

By saying that this man was in prison on another charge, implies that is guilty and the public will be more likely to assume that he is guilty of this current crime, because he has already been charged with a previous crime. However, the article fails to mention that this man was never CONVICTED of that previous charge, which means he is innocent until proven guilty. Technically, he has no previous criminal record, because he was not convicted and this article portrays this man as guilty and only finds evidence to support that assumption. 

It also only discusses what the Crown's allegations were, not the defence's, which is obviously biased and disproportionate. What were the events leading up to that alleged assault? Did the girlfriend have any role in initiating it? She later recanted her earlier statement by saying that he hadn't assaulted her, but by only stating this information at the end of the article, people have already formed their opinions from the biased beginning and will not change them now. 

This article will distort the public's perception of this accused man into believing/assuming that he is guilty of this current crime, simply because he was charged with another crime. What they will likely fail to realize, is that he was never convicted and has no previous record. The article only mentions the factors that support the claim of guilt and not anything that the defence said, mitigating factors of the crime or the accused's background information.   

Three men sentenced for alleged roles in 2006 stabbing death

I wrote this article about the three men sentenced (Ponce, Monkman and Tavares) today, as I felt both newspaper stories (Winnipeg Sun and Winnipeg Free Press) were highly biased and did not include enough information from both sides, so here is my article, which presents each side of the argument.

Three men were sentenced to different prison terms for their alleged roles in a stabbing death outside a Winnipeg nightclub in 2006.
            Glen Monkman, 39, was given a mandatory life sentence with parole eligibility set at 12 years after being convicted last month of second degree murder by a jury. The Crown was seeking 15 years for parole eligibility while his lawyer sought 10 years.
            Carlos Tavares, 31, received 5 years in prison in addition to one year in custody of time served, after jurors found him guilty of manslaughter. He will be eligible for parole after serving 1 and a half years. The Crown was seeking 13 years in prison.  
            Norris Ponce, 31, was given 2 years in prison in addition to 2 years time served. When the verdict was delivered last month, Ponce addressed the court by saying, "Not a day goes by where I don't think of what I could have done." Ponce has no previous criminal record and had asked the court to be sentenced lightly in order for him to raise his two children and support his wife as she completes her education. Ponce had been on bail for a year prior to the trial, where he obeyed his conditions, which was why his lawyer argued for a community sentence. Ponce will be eligible for full parole in 8 months. The Crown was seeking 7 years.
       Monkman was originally charged with first degree murder and Ponce and Tavares of second degree murder.  
            Ming Huynh, 24, was stabbed outside Club Desire in Winnipeg on April 30, 2006, which caused his death. Monkman admitted stabbing Huynh four times in the chest and cheek amidst many bystanders. He claimed that he should only have been found guilty of manslaughter based on the fact he was provoked. The Crown accused Ponce of distracting Huynh on the street prior to the stabbing. His defence lawyer argued that Ponce was just another victim of Huynh's, as Huynh was intoxicated, aggressive and had started verbal disputes with numerous people that night. Huynh's girlfriend Angie Pfiefer testified that he used steroids and cocaine and was severely intoxicated on that night. The Crown accused Tavares of driving a getaway vehicle away from the stabbing. Lawyers for Ponce and Tavares argued that there was no credible evidence linking them to the attack and that they should have been acquitted. No murder weapon was ever recovered, but Monkman's blood was found inside the getaway vehicle.  
            The key issue during the trial was related to the testimony of the Crown's key witness, Danny Simao. He claims that the men discussed an attack on the victim prior to arriving at the club. He also claims that the murder weapon was dumped in a river, after the group fled the stabbing. The Crown argued that they planned the attack as revenge for another stabbing where Monkman was the victim, at a wedding social in March 2006. However, defence lawyers argued that the testimony was inconsistent as Simao changed his story repeatedly about what he saw and heard. They argued that his vomiting and retching on the witness stand was a good indicator he was lying. Monkman's lawyer claimed Simao was a 100% untrustworthy witness whose evidence should have been rejected. Simao had been intoxicated and admitted that much of that day was a blank to him and that doesn’t remember the details of the vehicle conversation. Defence lawyers questioned why Simao was seen purchasing food after arriving at the club, if he had actually heard of the harmful plan. All three lawyers suggested that it is because the conversation never took place and accused Simao of fabricating his story.