A Red Deer drug addict who strangled a Potter’s Hands resident to death in 2013 has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.
“It’s difficult to imagine a more serious offence,” said Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Monica Bast while sentencing Mark William Bitterman on Monday.
Bitterman admitted to strangling Curtis Leroy Rangen, 43, in his Potter’s Hands apartment in Riverside Meadows in late April or early May 2013. Bitterman had gone to Rangen’s apartment to steal his TV to sell to settle a drug debt with someone else, said Crown prosecutor Ed Ring.
When Rangen resisted, he was strangled, bound with a belt and nylon cords and left in a bathtub. Bitterman returned to the apartment a short time later and found Rangen dead.
He stripped and washed Rangen’s body and stuffed him into a deep freezer.
It was the second time Bitterman had targeted Rangen, who suffered from mental illness and was not associated with his attacker in any way. Bitterman stole Rangen’s wallet and keys in a previous confrontation but was stopped from taking the TV.
Rangen’s care givers became concerned when they didn’t hear from him for several days. They notified his father, and mental health workers joined him at his son’s apartment, where the body was found on May 3.
Bitterman was arrested on June 13, 2013 in Kamloops, B.C. as part of another investigation.
Initially charged with first-degree murder, the charge was changed to second-degree murder during Bitterman’s preliminary hearing.
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this month, shortly before his trial was to begin.
Before the judge rendered her decision, Bitterman expressed his remorse.
“I know that I’m sorry. There’s no amount of words that I can say that can bring back anything that I’ve done.”
Defence lawyer Kim Ross told the judge of Stettler-born Bitterman’s troubled upbringing. He and a younger brother, who were both physically abused, were taken from their parents by social services when the boys were young.
Mark was adopted at age eight, but when his adopted father died a year later, he was taken to the U.S. by his mother. Mother and son moved frequently and social services was again involved. Bitterman was abusing drugs by the age of 10 or 11.
Convicted of robbery as an 18-year-old, Bitterman was deported to Canada. For the next 12 years, he drifted around homeless and drug addicted while racking up 35 criminal convictions and supporting himself mostly through crime.
In 2005, he was convicted of kidnapping and aggravated assault and sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.
As part of his latest sentence, the judge imposed a lifetime weapons prohibition and ordered Bitterman to provide a sample of his DNA to a national database.
He was given credit for 53 months and 20 days in pre-trial custody, based on a formula of 1.5 days per day served.