A political sex scandal and a bizarre triple-murder trial were among the top 2018 court stories.
On Feb. 2, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Don MacIntyre unexpectedly resigned from the United Conservative Party, saying he was leaving politics to focus on his family.
A week later, a court publication ban on his name was lifted and it came to light that MacIntyre had been charged by police with sexual assault and sexual interference with a minor.
He is trying to resolve his charges without a trial and the case will return to court on Jan. 11.
In early 2018, a triple-murder trial with more twists than any hard-boiled crime thriller came to a close.
Jason Klaus, 42, and Joshua Frank, 32, were found guilty in a Red Deer courtroom Jan. 10 of three counts each of first-degree murder.
After a six-week trial, Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin said he was convinced the men plotted the murder of Klaus’s parents, Gordon and Sandra, and his sister Monica, and that Frank pulled the trigger on a cold winter night in December 2013 at the Klaus farmhouse near Castor.
Frank also shot the family dog and then poured aviation fuel into the house and set fire to it.
The convictions carried an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. However, Macklin had the option of making one or both parole eligibilities consecutive, meaning the two men would not be able to apply for parole for 50 or 75 years.
On Feb. 14, Macklin chose not to change the 25-year parole eligibility, which was appealed by Crown prosecutors. The matter is still before the courts.
Both Klaus and Frank have also appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the matter is also still before the courts.
In a bizarre trial full of twists, the court heard that both men had confessed to their roles in the killings, only to change their stories on the stand, each fingering the other for the murders.
Defence lawyers were left with the job of trying to convince the judge that their clients had repeatedly lied when they confessed, but their testimony on the stand should be believed.
Here are a few of the other cases that made their way through the courts last year.
l On March 19, a Red Deer man with nearly 90 prior criminal convictions was sentenced to six years in prison for stabbing a man to death in February 2016.
Shane Dion McPhee, 42, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on the first day of a scheduled three-week trial and was sentenced to six years in prison.
McPhee was originally charged with second-degree murder for stabbing William “Blaine” Baker in the neck as he sat in a vehicle with several others outside McPhee’s home on Freemont Close in Red Deer on Feb. 13, 2016.
The Crown prosecutor said that in the unprovoked attack, Baker, 47, was stabbed once in the neck as he sat in the front passenger seat at around 9:30 p.m.
* In March, a man accused of killing a Samson Cree Nation woman was sentenced to 12 years in prison for manslaughter.
Joshua Crier, who was 19 at the time, was originally charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Kirsten Cutknife, 20, of Samson Cree Nation on Nov. 28, 2015.
Police launched an investigation after her body was found in a residence on the morning of Nov. 28 on the Samson Cree townsite at Maskwacis. Crier was arrested later that day.
* In an unusual case of pretending to be what you’re not, a Red Deer man was given an 18-month suspended sentence on March 21 for posing as a U.S. Marine.
Peter Toth, 59, was also sentenced to 200 hours of community service after pleading guilty to unlawfully wearing military decorations and unlawfully possessing a military identity card or other similar documents.
The court heard that on Nov. 8, 2017, Toth went to a St. Francis Assisi Middle School Remembrance Day ceremony in the guise of a U.S. Marine. He was wearing several medals, including a Purple Heart awarded to wounded soldiers.
* In April, a former Hunting Hills High School student who made threats online the previous month apologized in court.
The judge sentenced the 16-year-old to a conditional discharge with 12 months’ probation and 50 hours of community service. If he completes his probation and community service, he will not have a criminal record.
The teen, who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was among three charged by RCMP after threats were posted online to shoot up a March 2 bike-a-thon attended by 500 students.
Hunting Hills High School was placed under lockdown and students and staff were evacuated. Police searched the school, but found nothing before arresting the three teens.
* In May, a teen handed an adult sentence for first-degree murder lost his appeal and will have to serve his full sentence.
Lloyd Robert Sarson, 25, was shot and killed Jan. 1, 2013, in a parked car in Eastview. He was shot eight times.
The Red Deer male youth, who was 17 at the time of the murder and cannot be named, was convicted in December 2016 and sentenced to life without parole for 10 years.
* An appeal also failed for an Edmonton man who admitted he killed his girlfriend because he believed she was part of a group of supernatural serial killers.
Mark Damien Lindsay was convicted in May 2016 of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice in Red Deer provincial court.
The son of Edmonton’s former police chief did not deny killing 31-year-old Dana Turner in August 2011 and then dumping her body, which was found two months later near Innisfail.
His lawyer argued at Lindsay’s trial he should not be held criminally responsible because he had schizophrenia.
The judge had ruled Lindsay knew his actions were morally wrong.
* On May 25, a Red Deer man whose sawed-off rifle went off accidentally, killing a mother of two, was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison.
Lyndon Olsen, 35, had earlier pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death using a firearm after Randee Lynn Stewart, 25, was shot and killed in Red Deer on the morning of Feb. 1, 2017.
Stewart was killed by a single gunshot wound when a rifle in a sports bag went off as Olsen tossed it into a pickup she was sitting in outside a townhouse complex near 54th Avenue and 43rd Street.
* In June, an Innisfail financial adviser’s last avenue for appeal was closed when the Supreme Court of Canada said it would not hear his case.
Brian Andrew Malley was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years. Victoria Shachtay, 23, was killed on Nov. 25, 2011, when a bomb disguised as a gift detonated in her Innisfail home.
Malley was convicted in 2015 after a month-long trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.
* On June 18, a Somali man convicted of kidnapping former Sylvan Lake resident and freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout was sentenced in Ontario to 15 years in prison.
Lindhout’s mother, Lorinda Stewart, a former Red Deer resident who now lives in Canmore, posted a short statement on Facebook following the sentencing of Ali Omar Ader for kidnapping her daughter a decade earlier.
“15 years. Justice is served. Nothing can take away the horror and anguish I endured as a mother on the other end of the phone with this man for 460 days negotiating for the life of my daughter,” wrote Stewart.
* In August, a former Corrections Canada employee was sentenced to four months in prison for assisting in the escape of a Bowden Institution inmate in 2015.
Peter Edgar, 62, had previously pleaded guilty to one count of permitting or assisting an escape in Red Deer provincial court.
Edgar told the judge he did not know why he helped Sylvain Martin escape from Bowden Institution on April 16, 2015. Martin was serving a 10-year sentence for fraud in Bowden Institution’s minimum security annex at the time.
* In a bizarre case, a B.C. woman, who posed as an animal control officer in an attempt to steal a dog, was sentenced to 90 days in prison and given three-year’s probation in November.
As part of a misguided ruse to take an Innisfail woman’s dog, Karin Leeanna Adams showed up at her victim’s home last July 17 and asked if the pet was spayed or neutered.
Adams wanted the black Labrador, but the suspicious owner refused to hand it over. Adams threatened to come back and kick in her door.
The victim complained to Innisfail RCMP and Adams was arrested the next day.
Court heard that Adams later aggressively tailgated her victim and ignored a court order barring her from coming within 200 metres of the victim’s home. Adams pleaded guilty to personation, criminal harassment and breaching a court order.
* On Nov. 15, one of four men who broke out of the Red Deer Remand Centre was sentenced to nine months in prison.
Dallas Albert Rain pleaded guilty to breaking out of prison and being unlawfully at large in Red Deer provincial court.
Rain and the others broke out of the remand centre the night of June 12 after smashing a ground-floor window.
Three of the escapees were arrested the following day, but Rain remained on the lam for more than two weeks.
Some people facing serious charges were found not guilty after their day in court.
* In June, a judge found a Red Deer man who admitted stabbing his victim 58 times not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder.
Jordan Koizumi, 27, who was charged with second-degree murder, was found not criminally responsible for the death of Tina-Marie Pfeiffer.
On Oct. 27, 2016, Pfeiffer was found dead in her bedroom of her West Park home.
* A week before Christmas, a Delburne man was cleared by a jury of any wrongdoing in connection with the 2016 fatal rollover death near Lousana of a man driving a stolen truck.
A jury found Daniel Wayne Newsham, 47, not guilty of any charges related to the collision that occurred after a lengthy pursuit down rural roads.
Stanley Dick, 32, was killed when he was thrown from his rolling truck after it clipped Newsham’s vehicle on Highway 42 on Aug. 14, 2016.