Saskatchewan judge rules guilty plea will stand in attack on homeless woman | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Saskatchewan judge rules guilty plea will stand in attack on homeless woman

June 03, 2016 - 12:00 PM

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. - A guilty plea will stand for a man accused in an attack that left a Saskatchewan homeless woman badly burned and with both of her legs amputated.

Leslie Black had applied to recant his guilty plea to attempted murder in the attack on Marlene Bird in June 2014 in Prince Albert.

Justice Hugh Harradence wrote in his decision handed down Friday that Black "made a conscious and voluntary decision to plead guilty for reasons that were appropriate to him."

"He may now be questioning his decision, but in my view, there is nothing in the evidence that would suggest his guilty plea is invalid or should be set aside."

Bird was found clinging to life in a parking lot outside a community centre in downtown Prince Albert. She was burned so badly that doctors had to amputate both her legs. She has also had several surgeries for skin grafts.

Harradence said he believes Black was aware that he was entitled to a trial or he could instruct his lawyer to attempt to negotiate a plea.

Brent Little, Black's defence lawyer, argued that Black's former counsel didn't not properly explain the consequences of pleading guilty and said Black didn't have the mental capacity to understand the proceedings.

Much of the confusion seemed to stem from the possibility of Black being designated a dangerous offender, which carries an indefinite prison sentence. Black said he would never have pleaded guilty had he known he could be in prison for the rest of his life.

The judge said there's no evidence that Black suffers cognitive deficits to such an extent that his ability to understand is compromised.

"The evidence indicates that he voluntarily made the decision to admit the intention to kill and this decision was supported by the alleged evidence," wrote Harradence.

"Clearly, the decision was not easy for this accused but that does not mean the result was an invalid guilty plea. The decision was arrived upon after several months of deliberation by the accused and with the assistance of several discussions with his counsel."

In asking to set aside the plea, Black had also said that he didn't intend to kill Bird and was threatened to admit he set her on fire. But he couldn't say who had threatened him.

Harradence said there's no foundation for that suggestion and "rather, it is likely that the accused, with the assistance of other inmates, has reconstructed this memory."

The case is expected to be back in court June 8.

(The Canadian Press, CKBI)

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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