Dangerous offender hearing adjourned to verify accused’s criminal record

Crown prosecutor seeking dangerous offender status for man who admitted to 2015 stabbing death

A dangerous offender hearing was adjourned Wednesday to give the Crown prosecutor time to verify the criminal record of the prisoner involved.

In the spring, the Attorney General approved an application from Red Deer’s Crown prosecutors office to have Chad Alexander Kulba declared a dangerous offender because of several violent crimes.

It is rare, but Crown prosecutors can apply to a sentencing judge to have a criminal deemed either a dangerous or a long-term offender when there is evidence that the risk is high of further serious violence.

Kulba pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to seven years in prison in November 2017 for the gruesome murder of a 46-year-old Red Deer man on Christmas Day 2015.

Kulba, who was 33 at the time of the offence, admitted stabbing Thomas Braconnier repeatedly in a frenzied drug- and alcohol-fuelled attack in a downtown apartment building.

Braconnier tried to flee, but Kulba, who was heavily intoxicated on a mix of alcohol, crystal meth and prescription drugs, chased him down the stairs.

Kulba stabbed Braconnier about 30 times, at one point using a broken-off golf club shaft as a weapon.

While in remand custody, Kulba attacked another prisoner, biting and mangling his ear, in August 2017. He was convicted after a trial on April 10, 2018. Sentencing for that crime is tied into the dangerous offender hearing.

Defence lawyer George Lebessis told Judge Bruce Fraser that he was not prepared to consent to his client’s criminal record being used as evidence in his dangerous offender hearing until Crown prosecutors had verified it.

Lebessis said while an accused’s criminal record is regularly provided as evidence by the mutual consent of prosecutors and the defence, his client could face a life sentence, and Lebessis wanted to ensure all details are accurate.

“Every ‘t’ has to be crossed and every ‘i’ dotted, in my respectful submission,” said Lebessis.

Besides details of the offences, prosecutors also typically provide fingerprint evidence to prove the accused is the same person who committed the crimes.

To be declared a dangerous offender, an accused must have committed three serious offences that led to sentences of at least two years.

The case returns to court on Dec. 10, when the prosecutor and the defence will make their closing arguments before the judge.

To determine someone is a dangerous offender, a judge must be convinced by psychiatric testimony or other evidence that the convicted person is likely to engage in further violent conduct.

A judge can order an indeterminate prison sentence, a set prison sentence, or a sentence with a long-term supervision order.

The judge can also declare Kulba a long-term offender, which calls for a sentence of at least two years, plus up to 10 years of long-term supervision.

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