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.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Man who stabbed wife and cousin in unprovoked attacks, sentenced to prison

WINNIPEG - A Winnipeg man was sentenced Friday to 7.5 years in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and resisting arrest for a brutal attack on his wife and cousin in May 2007.
Larry Brass, 29, admitted he stabbed his spouse in the throat and face, severing a major artery, which caused her to suffer a massive stroke, spend several days on life-support and be left brain-damaged, partially paralyzed are requiring full-time care. Brass also admitted to slicing his cousin's neck and slashing his face as he slept on a couch, causing extensive blood loss and permanent scarring.
He then cut his own arms and throat and begged Winnipeg police to shoot him when they arrived at the West End apartment. Officers were able to wrestle him to the ground without using deadly force. The scene was witnessed by the couple's 12-year-old daughter and Brass' 14-year-old sister.
Brass' will be given double-time credit of six years for the three years he has already spent in custody. he will be eligible for release in six months.  Supervised probation will follow, with conditions to include counselling and a ban on alcohol consumption.
The Crown had sought four more years in prison, while the defence claimed Brass should be released from custody immediately with a sentence of three years time served.
Despite the grisly attack, Brass' wife told the court earlier this month that she has forgiven her husband and hopes to reconcile once he is released from prison.
His probation will also include a condition not to resume living with his wife unless his probation officer gives written consent.  The judge indicated this would provide "one final check" to ensure living with her husband is what the woman "really wants."
The Brass family is no stranger to tragedy. He is the nephew of former Manitoba RCMP Const. Dennis Strongquill, who was gunned down in December 2001 by three heavily armed Alberta fugitives during a seemingly routine traffic stop near Russell. The cousin Brass attacked is Strongquill's son.

Crown wants 4 more years, Brass wants to be released now. 
Severed major artery in wife`s throat and left knife stuck in cousin
Brain damaged wife forgives him for the brutal knife attack 
Judge described attack and scene inside home as mayhem
Brass slashed his own arm and neck and yelled at police to shoot him, had to be tasered. 
Judge describes how Brass, both victims initially all critical, this easily could have been double-murder/suicide. 
Judge: "The attacks were brutal, bloody...the effects devastating." 
Judge: Brass' teen daughter, sister "traumatized", as were police who witnessed carnage. 
Judge describes how wife suffered massive stroke during emergency surgery, family told she likely wouldn’t survive. 
The woman made miracle recovery, but damage permanent. Was a teaching assistant in Winnipeg School Division, dream of being teacher dashed. 
Brass has been in custody 3 years. Crown, defence agree judge can give 2-for-1 credit of 6 years. 
Judge: Recounting defence theory this random attack out-of-character in otherwise "loving relationship", caused by "cocktail" of booze, drug 
FYI, Brass admits consuming both while celebrating wife's 28th birthday hours before attack.
Brass claims to have no memory of attack, no explanation for why he did what he did. 
Brass made "a number of seperate decisions during his rampage" to attack wife, cousin, police.  
Judge: Worth noting he didn't attack teen daughter, sister. Shows he had "some thought process" at time of attacks. 
Judge: Brass a "good candidate" for rehabilitation, has expressed genuine remorse. 
Brass is now 30. Has no prior criminal record. His uncle was murdered Manitoba RCMP Const. Dennis Strongquill. 
[Comment From AndreaAndrea: ] 
I grew up with Larry and his wife, known them since grade 7. He was the most genuine, sweetest guy. I cannot even imagine that he could do something like this. So sad.
Brass was working at time of attack as a youth worker for troubled adolescents in Winnipeg School Division program.
Judge: No indication of any prior spousal abuse, problems. Brass described as a "model inmate" during time in custody.  
Judge: "This gives court confidence it has an offender who has recognized his wrongful conduct." 
Judge: Also worth noting the victim wishes to resume contact with Brass. 
Judge: However, all of these positive factors in some ways make this unprovoked, unexplained attack even more troubling. 
Judge: "Mr Brass is luck not to be facing charges of murder or manslaughter." 
Judge: Defence sentencing suggestion not fit. Crown suggestion strikes a better balance. 
SENTENCE - 7.5 years total. Less 6 years pre-trial credit. So, 1.5 years from today. 
POLL: Is a 7.5 year sentence fair in this case.....
                YES: 45% NO should be longer: 50% NO should be shorter: 5% 
Plus supervised probation to follow. Conditions include no booze, domestic/managment/addictions counselling. 

Also, condition not to resume living with wife unless probation officer gives written consent. 
Judge: This provides "one final check" to ensure resuming living with husband is what wife "really wants." 
Judge: "I'm not naive enough to believe happy ending in works...not pessimistic enough to not give it a chance." 
So, Brass has done 3 years. Gets another 18 months from today. Eligible for release 6 months from now. 
Means he could serve as little as 3.5 years total. 4.5 years at most, but almost nobody does full time, especially with no priors. 
Judge, in final words to Brass, tells him not to forget the victims he hurt. "Your responsibility doesn't end here. Just enters new phase."

Inexplicable knife attack left wife with brain damage
A Winnipeg man responsible for an inexplicable knife attack that sent his wife, his cousin and himself to hospital in critical condition has been sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison.
Larry Brass, 30, received double credit of six years for time already served, reducing his remaining sentence to 18 months.
“The attack was brutal, bloody and the consequences ... devastating,” said Justice Robert Dewar.
Brass previously pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of obstruction of justice in connection with the May 5, 2007, rampage.
Court heard Brass and his family spent the previous night celebrating his common-law wife’s 28th birthday, during which time Brass consumed alcohol, cocaine and ecstasy.
Brass, his wife and cousin returned to the couple’s Wolever Avenue apartment around 6 a.m.
A short time after going to bed, Brass was heard yelling at his wife and choking her. Brass retrieved a steak knife from the kitchen, returned to the bedroom and stabbed the woman in the face. He then moved to the living room where he stabbed his sleeping cousin in the face, neck and arms.
Brass then returned to the bedroom and stabbed his wife several more times in the face and neck, severing her carotid artery.
Brass’ 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old sister witnessed the attacks and called 911 after barricading themselves in their room.
Police arrived to find Brass sitting outside the room with serious self-inflicted stab wounds. Court heard he advanced on officers with a knife and was shocked with a Taser.
Brass said he had no explanation for the attack, which left both of his victims suffering permanent and debilitating injuries. Brass’ wife suffered a stroke during surgery and serious brain damage. She has no memory of the attack.
Brass had never been in trouble with the law and was by all accounts a loving husband and father, said his lawyer Greg Hawrysh.
Hawrysh argued Brass appears to have been in a state of “excited delirium” and unaware of his actions.
Court heard Brass and his wife want to renew their relationship after he has finished his sentence.
Dewar sentenced Brass to an additional two years supervised probation, which includes a condition Brass and his wife not live together without the permission of his probation supervisor.

I completely disagree with the 7.5 year sentence. Good thing double time was taken into account so now he only has to serve 1.5 years with 3 years probation, which is much better. Getting tough on crime is not effective!! When will people learn this!! Longer sentences do absolutely nothing to deter or reduce crime. Justice to me, does not mean punishment, revenge or retribution. I think we need to shift our justice system to one based on restorative justice and rehabilitation. 
This man had no prior record, was unaware of his actions which were likely caused by drugs and alcohol, was a loving and supportive father and husband, expressed genuine remorse for his actions, and had already spent 3 years in custody. He was also employed in a job where he was helping and counseling youth in the school division. There was no evidence of domestic abuse in the household. I think these are all very relevant mitigating factors, which were not properly considered by this judge. In my opinion, this man should have been released with a 3 year probation order, and no more prison. Really, how is prison going to help this man... It wont. 

This man is an excellent candidate for rehabilitation and could really benefit from counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, and especially from victim-offender mediation with his family, as part of restorative justice. If his wife wants to resume living with him and forgives him and the man shows remorse, I think mediation could be extremely effective for them both to be involved in the justice process where the man could learn how his actions have truly impacted his family and to help repair the harm done and restore their relationships. This man has a family and needs to support them. I DO NOT think prison is suitable for him, as he is not likely a risk to re-offend and is not dangerous. He is a first time offender and should not have been sentenced this harshly. 

Mitigating Factors
Aggravating Factors
Pleaded guilty
Unprovoked stabbing on wife and cousin
Accepted Responsibility for Actions
2 counts of aggravated assault
Intoxicated (Alcohol, Ecstasy, Cocaine)- possibly unaware of his actions
Left wife partially paralyzed and cousin with permanent scarring
Deep remorse (offered tearful apology)

No prior criminal record/never been in trouble with the law previously

Loving husband and father

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