July 18th, 2024

Second accused pleads guilty to manslaughter in Tailfeathers case

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on March 12, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A second Fort Macleod man has been sentenced for his role in the vicious beating death of Lane Tailfeathers nearly three years ago.
Richard William Lavell, 45, who had been charged with second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body, pleaded guilty Monday in Lethbridge court of justice to manslaughter, and was sentenced to just under three years in prison. The charge of interfering with a dead body was withdrawn, and Lavell was given credit for the equivalent of two years and nine months spent in custody, which completes his sentence.
A co-accused, Randy Lee Giroux, pleaded guilty last week to manslaughter and received the same sentence. He was also released from custody after receiving credit for the equivalent amount of time he spent in remand.
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, Travis Holy White Man, wanted to give Tailfeathers a beating to send a message to Tailfeathers’ cousin about a drug debt. The man enlisted the help of Giroux, as well as Richard Lavell and Miranda Turuk, who were 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.
Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox pointed out that even though the sentence of less than three years – time served – may seem light, it was necessary given the Crown’s case.
“The court needs to understand that with this joint submission there is a significant amount of quid quo pro,” Fox said. “While Mr. Lavell and others have acknowledged the facts and circumstances that led to the death of Mr. Tailfeathers, many of those facts and circumstances would be very difficult for the Crown to have proven at trial, primarily because the only individuals that were inside that house are the three co-accused, the deceased Mr. Tailfeathers, and Mr. Holy White Man, who is also deceased.”
Fox said they were also under the influence of narcotics at the time.
Calgary lawyer Alain Hepner said Lavell is remorseful and accepts responsibility for his role in Tailfeathers’ death.
“The remorse is certainly palpable,” Hepner said.
“I wish it could have been different,” Lavell simply said when asked if he had anything to say.
Tailfeathers’ body was wrapped in a tarp and the bloody carpet which had been removed from the floor of the residence, and the body was taken to a detached garage on the property. Edward Alexander Goodrich and Michelle Lee Toth were later recruited to help clean up the blood and dispose of the body.
At about 10:40 a.m. June 22 Goodrich helped move the wrapped body to Toth’s vehicle, and he filled garbage bags with blood-soaked rags and other items used to clean the area where Tailfeathers had been beaten and killed. He paid Toth $100 for gas, and at about 11:30 a.m. she and Giroux left the residence, drove to the Crowsnest Pass and rolled the body down a rocky embankment on a private gravel road northwest of Lundbreck Falls.
Goodrich, meanwhile, disposed of the garbage bags filled with the blood-soaked rags in a dumpster in Fort Macleod. He pleaded guilty last week to one charge of interfering with a dead body, and was sentenced to one year in jail. He was given credit for the equivalent amount of time he has already spent in remand custody, which completes his sentence.
Toth, who had previously been released on bail, pleaded guilty Monday to interfering with a death body. However, her lawyer, Andre Ouellette of Calgary, said while Toth agrees with the facts presented in court, the defence and Crown have not agreed on a sentence, and the matter was adjourned until later in the month to schedule a date for a contested sentencing hearing.
Turuk’s matter was also in court Monday where she was expected to resolve a charge of manslaughter, but it was adjourned until later in the week.

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