Court briefs – January 8

A Calgary man has been committed to stand trial on first-degree murder following a preliminary hearing this week.

Trial ordered in murder case

A Calgary man has been committed to stand trial on first-degree murder following a preliminary hearing this week.

Brent William Crouse, 45, was ordered to stand trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench by provincial court Judge Jim Mitchell following the four-day hearing.

Crouse is also charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder in the April 16, 2007, death of Sheldon Mark Hiller, 46, of Red Deer.

Court heard earlier at the sentencing of another accused that Hiller was stabbed numerous times in the chest and torso. His body was found in a ditch near Raven.

Crouse will appear in Queen’s Bench on Feb. 1 to possibly set a date for a trial, which isn’t expected until fall.

Charles Richard Beckett, 49, was sentenced to two years in jail, satisfied by time served, after pleading guilty to accessory after the fact to murder last spring. Beckett was in jail for a year.

Larry Allen Scott, 53, of Red Deer, who was a witness this week along with Beckett, is charged with second-degree murder and being an accessory to murder. He is scheduled to return of Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench in September for his trial.

Scott and Crouse remain in custody.

Sex assault case adjourned

A need to examine a large volume of evidence with his client prompted a lawyer to adjourn a plea on charges against a Red Deer man who is alleged to have sexually assaulted and robbed an elderly woman last summer.

Arnold Piragoff told Red Deer provincial court on Thursday that he needs to talk directly to his client, Jesse Peter Toews 25, before taking the next step in the case on Jan. 21.

Piragoff said the problem is that Toews, who remains in custody, is constantly shipped out of Red Deer to Calgary and not present long enough in Red Deer to review the evidence gathered by police against him.

Toews was deemed fit to stand trial last month following a psychiatric assessment.

RCMP allege Toews jumped an elderly woman and assaulted her about 9:30 a.m. on July 29, 2009, in a wooded area near 67th Street and 52nd Avenue. The woman’s purse and watch were stolen in the attack.

It is also alleged that Toews threw someone into a closet on Aug. 6. He then smashed a cellphone and fled the scene.

A cruelty to animals charge was also laid after Toews allegedly threw a kitten against a wall, killing it. Toews is charged with sexual assault, forcible confinement, robbery, making death threats and mischief to property and failing to appear in court.

Pipebomb case to return on Jan. 21

The defence will attempt to resolve a case against a Red Deer man who is charged with making a pipebomb that exploded under a vehicle and damaged a north Red Deer residence last fall.

Defence lawyer Arnold Piragoff told Red Deer provincial court on Thursday that he will attempt to “resolve the matter” when he next appears with his client Kevin Scott Sinclair.

The 29-year-old Sinclair will return to court on Jan. 21 after reserving his plea on charges of making an explosive device, causing an explosion and mischief endangering life. He remains in custody.

Court heard earlier that shrapnel from the exploding bomb scattered ball bearings in all directions. Several chunks smashed through the Jordan Parkway home in Johnstone Park where a family was sleeping about 1 a.m. on Oct. 20.

Michael Joseph Toews, 26, of Red Deer was placed on 18 months probation last month after pleading guilty on Nov. 3 to making an explosive device.

Christopher Sinclair, 27, of Red Deer has a preliminary hearing set for Feb. 19. He is charged with making an explosive device, mischief endangering life and using an explosive device. He also remains in custody.

Woman avoids jail in arson case

A woman who set fire to a bedroom following an argument with her boyfriend after he caught her with another man received a suspended sentence on Thursday.

Jennifer Deborah Leeks, 29, of Red Deer pleaded guilty to damaging property by arson when she appeared in Red Deer provincial court.

Leeks received a suspended sentence of two years, during which she will be on probation.

The maximum sentence for the offence is 14 years in jail. She was originally charged with arson endangering life.

Judge Thomas Schollie heard the Sept. 12 fire at a townhouse on Stanton Street caused an estimated $65,000 in damage, including to the bedroom and stairwell and bedroom contents.

Crown prosecutor Jason Snider, who suggested a provincial jail sentence of two years or less, said Leeks started the fire after arguing with her common-law husband of six years who found her in a compromising position. Leeks’ friend was kicked out before the argument.

Leeks, who was heavily intoxicated, went to an upstairs bedroom while the boyfriend went into the basement.

Leeks put some burning candles near curtains and left the residence.

The boyfriend noticed smoke and tried to fight the fire and called Red Deer Emergency Services.

Leeks went to Hanna but turned herself in the next day to Red Deer RCMP.

Defence lawyer John MacNaugton argued for a suspended sentence because his client had no previous record and had voluntarily taken alcohol counselling.

Schollie said he was pleased that Leeks was taking treatment and “making progress.”

He said the insurance company will most likely be after Leeks for damages.

“I considered jail but she’s never been there before and is a good employee” with no record, the judge said.

The maximum sentence for mischief endangering life is life in jail.

City man faces drug charges

A 22-year-old Red Deer man appears in court in February on several drug charges after RCMP raided a residence on Tuesday.

Const. Sabrina Grunow of city RCMP said police used a search warrant for the residence in the 4700 block of 33rd Street about 7:30 p.m.

Police seized undisclosed amounts of marijuana, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), ecstasy tablets, cash and drug trafficking paraphernalia.

The man, whose name wasn’t released because the information hasn’t been sworn, was released to appear in Red Deer provincial court on Feb. 23.

Two other males were released without charges, police said.