Updated: Emotional scene in court as woman pleads guilty in 2018 Sunchild First Nation stabbing death

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death in December 2018

Sobs could be heard in a Red Deer courtroom on Monday afternoon as the events that led to Samantha Sharpe’s stabbing death in December 2018 were recounted.

Chelsey Lagrelle has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for stabbing Sharpe, one of the wounds piercing her heart.

Following their shifts at a local truck stop, Lagrelle and Sharpe got together with Chelsey’s brother at a home on Sunchild First Nation. After several hours of heavy drinking, an argument broke out in the early hours of Dec. 12, 2018 and Chelsey, who was 23 at the time, swung a knife at her older brother several times, wounding him in the leg.

She then turned on Sharpe, stabbing her twice.

Police were called and Sharpe’s body was found near the door of the home.

Lagrelle was arrested without incident at another location and charged with manslaughter and assault with a weapon.

Nearly 20 of Sharpe’s family members and other supporters were at the Red Deer courthouse to hear Lagrelle plead guilty for a second time to manslaughter. She pleaded to the same charge last December but a legal hitch required the plea be repeated.

The Crown prosecutor withdrew the assault charge.

Valerie Goodrunning said her younger sister touched a lot of people in her life.

“She was loved by many people. She was a really good person,” said Goodrunning. “She did a lot for all of her friends.”

Sharpe was in a vehicle accident that almost cost her her life when she was 23 years old.

“She was ejected from a vehicle and the vehicle landed on top of her. She was badly burned and spent many months in the burn unit and in physio.

“She fought hard for her life,” said Goodrunning.

“She never hesitated to help somebody out.”

Another older sister, Marcella Goodrunning, said Samantha committed herself to animal rescue, helping care and provide food for abandoned dogs.

In memory of their sister and other missing and murdered Indigenous women, both sisters wore red dresses to court.

For Sharpe’s family, the journey through the court system has been a painful ordeal.

Crown prosecutors replaced the original manslaughter charge with second-degree murder after a review. However, Sharpe’s family and friends were dismayed when it was later changed back to manslaughter.

Crown prosecutor Ed Ring explained in court on Monday that because of the amount of alcohol consumption on the night of the stabbing it was determined Lagrelle did not form the intention to kill, although she did intend to stab Sharpe.

The family does not believe that being drunk should not be allowed as an excuse to avoid more serious charges.

“What happened, she didn’t deserve it,” said Valerie.

“And how it’s being handled is not enough. We thought that it should be second-degree (murder).

“She stabbed her twice, so we don’t see that as an accident.”

The family wants the maximum penalty — life in prison — to be imposed. The minimum sentence is four years in prison.

Family members were further disappointed on Monday that Lagrelle, who has been out on bail, had her release conditions eased to allow her to get a job.

Acknowledging the supporters in the gallery, Ring explained that none of the decisions around Lagrelle’s release conditions were taken lightly and they are appropriate given the circumstances.

Sentencing has been set for March 26. Before that, a psychological assessment, pre-sentence report and a Gladue report will be done. Gladue reports are available to help the court determine appropriate sentences for First Nations and Metis offenders.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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