A Red Deer man serving a prison sentence for manslaughter pleaded guilty to three unrelated robberies on Tuesday.
Mark Bitterman, 34, was sentenced to three more years in prison to be served at the same time as the 13-year sentence for manslaughter he was given last year.
Bitterman pleaded guilty to one c0unt of robbery and two counts of robbery with violence, stemming from three incidents that took place over eight days in 2013.
Crown prosecutor Ed Ring said the first robbery took place on the morning of June 5 at a northside Red Deer hotel. Bitterman, who was carrying brass knuckles, and another man approached their victim, pushed him into a room and held him at knifepoint.
Cash, credit and bank cards were stolen along with the man’s keys to his Ford F-150 pickup, which was stolen and never recovered.
On June 7, they robbed their next victim, who believed he was meeting an escort he found online.
When he arrived at an apartment near 59th Street and 54th Avenue, two men attacked him and bound him in duct tape. Cash, credit cards, a cellphone and the keys to a Chevrolet Silverado truck were taken.
When the man asked to be freed, Bitterman threatened to put a bullet in his head, said Ring.
Their victim was taken for a drive in his truck but managed to escape.
A similar ruse happened on June 12, when a man who thought he was meeting an escort was jumped by Bitterman and an accomplice. This time they had what appeared to be a handgun.
Credit cards and other contents from his wallet were stolen along with his truck. The victim was left stripped naked except for a T-shirt.
The stolen truck was found soon after in an alley.
Bitterman and two accomplices were arrested by RCMP the following day in Kamloops. An imitation handgun was found.
The three robberies happened only a few weeks after Bitterman strangled a Potter’s Hands resident Curtis Leroy Rangen, 43. Rangen’s body was discovered in a freezer in his apartment on May 3.
Bitterman was initially charged with first-degree murder but later pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He is serving his time at Grand Cache Correctional Institute.
The three-year sentence for the robberies was a joint submission by the Crown prosecutor and Bitterman’s lawyer, Kim Ross, of Calgary.
Ross said Bitterman’s problems stemmed from his drug use.
Bitterman told Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice P. R. Jeffrey that now he is sober he wants to make use of his prison time to deal with his addiction for when he is released.
“The thing that I’m worried about the most when I get out is drugs,” he said.
Bitterman was also handed a lifetime weapons prohibition and must provide a sample of his DNA to a national database.