Monday, January 30, 2023

Lethbridge man acquitted of attempted murder

A Lethbridge man has been found not guilty of attempted murder.

Judge Gregory Maxwell handing down that verdict Monday morning (July 22) in the case against Robert John Sheppard, 33, who was accused of trying to kill his girlfriend by firing several shots in to a west side home in April last year.

Judge Maxwell telling the court in his decision that he couldn’t rule out other possible intentions, including that Sheppard was trying to scare the woman, damage her property or that he was just acting recklessly.

Sheppard, however, was found guilty of assault with a weapon, recklessly discharging a firearm and six other weapons-related offences.

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The Crown is recommending Sheppard go to prison for six to eight years, while the defence is suggesting three-and-a-half to five years behind bars. Sentencing will take place later this summer.

Sheppard addressed the court shortly after submissions were made to say that he regrets and apologizes for what happened, adding “in theory, you don’t do that to someone you love.”

Defence lawyer Andre Ouellette also presenting arguments on Monday (July 22) that his clients rights were violated while in custody at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre prior to his trial.

Sheppard took the stand to testify that he has been in jail for a total of 462 days, a majority of which has been spent in administrative segregation, otherwise known as protective custody. He says he requested segregation after he was assaulted by three inmates and ended up in the hospital just two days after being placed in the jail’s general population.

Sheppard says he is required to stay in his cell 22 hours of the day, the food is poor quality, mail is difficult to send and receive and there is very little yard space when he is allowed outdoors.

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When asked by Crown prosecutor Tyler Raymond during cross examination why he never asked to be removed from segregation, Sheppard said his only options were to be assaulted again in general population or be moved to a jail in Medicine Hat.

Oullette, who’s seeking to have more pre-trial custody credit added to Sheppard’s sentence through this charter argument, suggests there is basis to believe that Sheppard’s treatment is a breach of his rights. Meanwhile, Raymond says conditions must be “abhorrent and intolerable” in order to be considered a breach of rights.

Judge Maxwell has reserved sentencing until later this summer, noting that this is not a straightforward decision and he must carefully review all the relevant details.

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