April 27, 2016 - 12:00 PM
PENTICTON - James Buhler will spend another three and a half years in jail for a brutal attack on his ex-wife that took place in a Princeton parking lot in February, 2014.
Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen handed down his decision in Penticton Supreme Court this morning, April 27, giving 54-year-old Buhler a total of six and a half years in prison for the knife attack that inflicted 11 wounds on his former wife and badly cut the hand of his daughter, who Cullen repeatedly praised for courageously intervening in the attack.
Cullen recounted the assault, which took place late in the afternoon of Feb. 26, 2014 in the parking lot of the Princeton Dairy Queen.
Buhler and his wife had separated in September 2013, resulting in the deterioration of Buhler’s mental health to the point he was charged with uttering threats against his former wife, arrested and released on bail with a no contact order.
Cullen said Buhler changed the locks on the former couple’s shared postbox in order to force contact with her.
They arranged to meet at the Dairy Queen parking lot, but instead of providing his former spouse with a key, Buhler attempted to persuade her to return to him. When she refused and threatened to call police, he reached into his vehicle, pulled out a 10-inch knife and began stabbing her. She tried to flee, but slipped on the icy parking lot and struck her head. Buhler continued the vicious assault until the couple’s daughter, who was also at the scene, disarmed him.
The two women were able to get to safety in the restaurant. Buhler then attempted to slit his own throat, but was saved by arriving police and ambulance personnel.
Cullen called the daughter’s effort an “extremely courageous action which may have saved her mom’s life and a murder charge to Buhler.”
“Six years and six months is an appropriate sentence, in my view,” Justice Cullen said after reviewing Crown and defence arguments.
Justice Cullen noted the determined and brutal nature of the attack, and the fact Buhler was under a restraining order at the time of the incident, as factors in his decision.
He also noted Buhler’s possession of a knife at the meeting, and the fact the attack continued even after Buhler’s former spouse had fallen to the ground.
Justice Cullen also pointed out Buhler’s guilty pleas to lesser charges of aggravated assault and unlawfully causing bodily harm, noting a charge of attempted murder had been stayed.
“Attempted murder requires proof of an attempt to kill,” he said, adding Buhler received a benefit from his plea.
Buhler's victims’ wounds, although serious, were not life threatening.
With credit for time served, Buhler has half of his sentence remaining to be served. He also faces a firearms prohibition.
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