Man pleads guilty to assault during deadly house party

Calgary man admits punching and kicking victim leaving him with a black eye

A man who was involved in a chaotic Lacombe house party that left a man dead pleaded guilty to assault on Friday.

Jesse Vankroonenburgh, 25, of Calgary pleaded guilty in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench to punching and kicking a man at the party in the early hours of Dec. 9, 2015.

His victim was also stabbed at the party and taken to hospital with serious injuries. Another man, Brent John Fogle, 26, was found dead at the scene.

Vankroonenburgh’s guilty plea does not relate to the stabbing or the other man’s death.

Defence lawyer Maurice Collard and Crown prosecutor Bina Border made a joint submission suggesting a 15-day sentence to be satisfied by nine days Vankroonenburgh spent in jail after he was arrested following the party.

A one-day sentence satisfied by his Friday court appearance was proposed for a charge of breaching a court order.

Reading from a statement of facts, Border said Vankroonenburgh and his victim had engaged in a “consensual fight” at the house party. However, it got out of hand and at one point Vankroonenburgh and another man ganged up on the victim.

Vankroonenburgh was also convicted of kicking the victim in the chest as he was kneeling, conceding the fight.

“This is not an aggravated assault,” said Collard.

“Ultimately, the injury is a black eye. That’s what we’re talking about here.”

Outside court, Collard said while there was a stabbing “Mr. Vankroonenburgh plead guilty only to simple assault for over-fighting, two-on-one fighting and kicking the victim.”

Vankroonenburgh, who works as a roofer, is looking forward to putting the incident behind him, he said.

Four video clips taken during the raucous house party were played on a laptop for Justice Monica Bast.

The pandemonium was clear, with sounds of shouting, swearing, screams of “stop” and near-hysterical crying by one woman, who repeatedly threatens to call police.

Border told Justice Monica Bast there was “significant weakness” in the Crown’s case.

The events the night of the fight were chaotic and witnesses proved reluctant to testify at the preliminary hearing.

Border said the reliability of witness testimony was “challenging,” adding, “frankly, that’s putting it lightly.”

Bast agreed with the joint submission, meaning Vankroonenburgh will not have further jail time. He must provide a sample of his DNA to a national database.

He told the court he was sorry for his actions on that night.

“I lost my good friend that day.”

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