April 16th, 2024

Man sentenced for beating death released from custody

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on March 5, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Fort Macleod man who was sentenced to just under three years in a federal penitentiary for the beating death of Lane Tailfeathers in the summer of 2021, has already completed his sentence.
Randy Lee Giroux was sentenced Friday in Lethbridge court of justice to a prison term of two years and nine months, but it was deemed served and he was released from custody after he was credited for the equivalent amount of time he spent in remand since he was arrested.
Several members of his family were visibly upset at the sentence, however, and stormed out the courtroom yelling after Justice Timothy Hironaka gave his decision and agreed with a joint recommendation by the Crown and defence for a custodial sentence of 1,000 days.
“I can’t imagine the grief that friends and family of the deceased feel,” Hironaka said moments before announcing the sentence.
Hironaka explained to Tailfeathers family and friends sitting in the courtroom that he accepted the joint submission by the lawyers because it fits in the range of appropriate sentences, given the circumstances of the case.
“(I) ask that you perhaps respect the processes that the court has to accede to, including what I’m doing here and now; and that is direction from the Supreme Court of Canada that where a joint submission is tendered to the court, that the court, unless it can articulate why the joint submission is not within the range of sentences that could properly be considered by a court, that a sentencing court, such as this court here today, is obliged to receive and accede to a joint submission if it is in the range.”
Giroux had been charged with second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body, but on Friday Calgary lawyer Kirsten Lancee pleaded guilty on behalf of her client to a reduced charge of manslaughter and his other charge was withdrawn.
Tailfeathers, 35, was last seen by his mother on Father’s Day June 20, 2021, and three days later she called police to tell them her son was missing. A month later his skeletal remains were found wrapped in a tarp and carpet in the Crowsnest Pass.
“An autopsy was conducted, and the medical examiners determined that the cause of Lane Tailfeathers’ death was homicidal blunt force trauma,” Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox told court as he read from an agreed statement of facts.
Fox said that on the evening of June 20, 2021, Tailfeathers was at a residence in the 300 block of 20 Street in Fort Macleod with several other people. One of the individuals wanted to give Tailfeathers a beating to send a message to Tailfeathers’ cousin about a drug debt. The man enlisted the help of Giroux, Richard Lavell and Miranda Turuk, who are also charged with second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body.
While Lavell held Tailfeathers in a headlock, Giroux struck him multiple times in the head, and Turuk struck him in the body and head with a small bat.
“The beating resulted in Lane Tailfeathers bleeding profusely,” Fox said. “At some point during, or shortly after the beating, Lane Tailfeathers died as a result of the beating.”
Fox said the three assailants removed the blood-soaked carpet and scrubbed the blood from the floor, then wrapped the body in a tarp and rolled it in the carpet before moving it into a detached garage on the property.
Two other individuals, Edward Alexander Goodrich and Michelle Lee Toth, who are charged with accessory after the fact to murder and interfering with a dead body, later arrived at the residence to help clean up the blood and get rid of the body, Fox said, and about 10:40 a.m. on June 21 Giroux and Lavell moved the body from the garage into a Toth’s car.
“An hour later Randy Lee Giroux and Michelle Toth departed the residence in Fort Macleod and drove to a private gravel road northwest of Lundbreck Falls in the Crownsnest Pass, where they unloaded the body of Lane Tailfeathers, still rolled up in tarp and the carpet. They disposed of the body by rolling it down a rocky embankment. The skeletal remains were located in the same spot where it had been disposed of.”
Reading from her victim impact statement, Tailfeathers’ mother, Wanda Tailfeathers, said her life has been forever changed as she struggles to cope with her son’s violent death.
“Every year Father’s Day will be a day that will bring me great emotional sorrow and tears, instead of a day of celebration, love and happiness,” Wanda said. “I sit here typing, still trying to understand the death of my son; trying to cope with the feelings of disbelief, anger and confusion, and trying to survive one day at a time.
“My body and spirit are in shock still, and at times feelings of numbness engulf me. My life has changed forever, having to live with the emotional pain and unbearable feelings of losing a child that I loved so much.”
Although family members expressed anger at the sentence, Fox explained to the court minutes earlier that the joint submission not only helps bring closure to the file, but reflects the importance of guilty pleas and negotiated settlements. He also pointed out the defence agreed to waive the right to trial and admit the facts that established Giroux’s guilt.
“Sometimes Crowns have a more difficult time to prove cases than in other instances,” Fox said. “This is one of those files, where, but for a guilty plea and but for Mr. Giroux’s acceptance of the facts provided to the court earlier, there are facts that the Crown would have had significant difficulty proving.
“What transpired in that house happened in the late evening, early hours, and it happened in circumstances whereby the only witnesses were participants in the beating.”
Lancee acknowledged the ‘quid quo pro’ with the Crown in arriving at a joint submission and guilty plea, and said there were issues with the Crown’s case relating to eyewitnesses and witness statements from the co-accused. She also noted that the guilty plea will save three weeks of trial and “significant” related court resources.
Lancee said Giroux considered Tailfeathers a friend, and is “extremely remorseful” for what transpired.
“He knows that he’s going to have to live with what he’s done. He offers his sincerest apologies to the victim’s family; I appreciate that’s never going to be enough, and it’s clear, of course, the impact that has been had on the victims in this case.”
Lancee said the incident occurred in relation to substance abuse by everyone involved, and during his time in custody, Giroux took every opportunity available to him to rehabilitate himself.
In addition to his jail sentence, Giroux is prohibited for life from possessing weapons, and he must provide a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Data Bank.
The case against the four other accused is scheduled to return to court later in the month, ostensibly to speak to resolution of their charges.

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