June 23rd, 2018

Five-year sentence for substance-fueled home invasion and stabbing

By Peggy Revell on January 12, 2017.


A young man whose drug-fueled, early-morning home invasion led to a stabbing was sentence to five years.

“I want to take full responsibility for my actions,” said Joshua Buffalo-Calf McConnell, appearing at the Medicine Hat Courthouse Wednesday for sentencing after pleading guilty to charges that stem back to just over a year ago.

At the time he was only thinking of himself and getting more drugs, he said.

“I deserve every day of my sentence,” the 19-year-old said, adding he knows the pain he has caused his victims will go on long after his sentence is served, and that he knows an apology doesn’t fix anything, won’t undo the pain he has caused, and understands if the victims can’t forgive him.

The incident occurred in the early morning of Dec. 30, 2015 when — intoxicated on a mixture of alcohol and drugs — Buffalo-Calf McConnell broke into a detached garage, and then attempted to break into a residence — fleeing when the homeowners became alert to his actions. He broke into another residence, went into one bedroom where a woman was sleeping, and then into another where her 15-year-old grandson was sleeping.

Buffalo-Calf McConnell then put his hands around the youth’s neck, pointed a kitchen knife at the youth and threatened to kill the grandmother if the youth made a sound.

The accused then went to the basement, where another resident — the grandfather— was asleep. The grandfather woke up, and a fight ensued, with Buffalo-Calf McConnell repeatedly stabbing the man in the side and the back, until the residents were able to push him outside. Police were already in the area due to calls about the break-ins, and Buffalo-Calf McConnell was arrested.

The accused doesn’t recall the events due to being intoxicated.

The Crown asked for a sentence of nine years, pointing to a risk assessment evaluation that states the accused has a high risk of violent recidivism. The report also claimed the accused has “antisocial characteristics” being “ego-centric” and “with little regard for others” — and noted that despite recognizing his addiction to drugs as being the cause of many of his problems, he had failed to access drug treatment programs while in custody. The report also questioned the accused’s level of remorse.

Defence counsel requested a sentence range of three-and-a-half to four years, saying Buffalo-Calf-McConnell does want to seek treatment, but the best plan is a high intensity program in the federal penitentiary.

Buffalo-Calf McConnell’s troubled childhood was outlined during sentencing, including growing up with a father who used both alcohol and drugs, his mother being an alcoholic. He himself has used drugs since age 12, dropping out of school in Grade 10 to traffic cocaine.

“The violence inflicted on (the victim) is of course horrendous,” said Judge D. Brand, describing the accused as being a “loose cannon” during the spree.

“He many not have had a plan to commit robbery but as things developed, he made these decisions that amount to using a weapon, inflicting injury, and threats to cause death and bodily harm.”

The accused’s background is one where he “”fell through the cracks,” including having no guidance from parents, Brand said. It was also noted how this upbringing is tied to the historical treatment of aboriginal people, including the 60s Scoop that Buffalo-Calf McConnell’s First Nation community was subjected to.

“He didn’t help himself … he made some bad choices,” Brand added.

Buffalo-Calf McConnell will now receive guidance that he didn’t have before, and now has reports about the problems he faces, meaning he has “parameters and anchors with which one can proceed,” said Brand. Also recognized was changes already made, including the accused now attends church every Sunday, participates in smudging, has attempted to stay sober and plans to seek treatment.

“It’s up to you to do something for yourself and to keep society safe,” Brand told Buffalo-Calf McConnell, and he feels rehabilitation is possible if the youth sets his mind to it.

Buffalo-Calf McConnell is currently serving a four month sentence for an assault committed in jail. With pretrial custody factored in, he has an additional 47 months to serve.

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