R v P & B (2014)
- Clayton Rice, Q.C.
The Edmonton Institution is a maximum security penitentiary located just north of Edmonton. Known as “the Max” it generally houses prisoners serving long sentences for serious crimes. In this case, P & B were inmates charged with first degree murder as a result of the stabbing death of another inmate in his cell. The state’s evidence included video surveillance footage of the range where the deceased’s cell was located, fingerprints and the evidence of two other inmates who testified at the preliminary inquiry. However, the Crown Attorney was still faced with difficulties in proving the specific intent to cause death or bodily harm likely to cause death which are alternative requirements in the definition of murder under s 229 of the Criminal Code. On the other hand, both defendants were facing life sentences and long terms of parole ineligibility if convicted of either first or second degree murder. Following protracted negotiations, both defendants pleaded guilty to manslaughter and avoided the possibility of more severe consequences. A guilty plea to manslaughter is always a compelling alternative to risking snake eyes.