A second-degree murder charge has been dropped against a woman accused of being involved in the death of a man in his Red Deer home.
Crown prosecutor Greg Gordon said after reviewing all of the evidence around the killing of Joseph Junior Alfred Gallant, 45, on March 29, 2019, there was no likelihood of conviction on the murder charge against Jennifer Lee Caswell.
Caswell, 38, pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm for attacking the common-law partner of Gallant on the night he was allegedly stabbed to death.
Gordon said Caswell, along with Quentin Strawberry and two others, went to Gallant’s Grandview home on March 29. Gallant and his visitors were known to each other.
At some point, Caswell and Gallant’s partner got into an argument over some missing clothing. When Caswell found the clothing in a closet, the fight escalated and Caswell started throwing punches.
Gallant’s partner suffered bruises and cuts and her face was covered in blood when RCMP arrived.
“This was a rather vicious assault on a person within her home,” Gordon told Red Deer provincial court Judge Jim Hunter.
Around the same time, Gallant was stabbed. The father of two, who had come to Red Deer from Prince Edward Island only four months earlier, was taken to hospital, where he later died.
The Crown and defence lawyer Jared Craig recommended an eight-month sentence for Caswell in a joint submission.
Gordon said the Crown spent considerable time going over the evidence before deciding to drop the second-degree murder charge.
Craig said his client has not had a stable upbringing and the father of her teen son died around the time of the incident. She was also struggling with a serious opioid addiction at the time.
Since her arrest a few weeks after Gallant’s death, she has made “tremendous rehabilitative progress” and continues to take treatment for addictions.
Caswell is remorseful and wrote a letter of apology to her victim, said Craig.
Hunter called Caswell’s attack a “vicious, uncalled-for assault.”
He noted that her criminal record did not include violent crimes and accepted the eight-month sentence, which was satisfied by time Caswell has already served in custody. She was also given one year probation.
Strawberry is scheduled to go on trial in March for second-degree murder and assault causing bodily harm in connection with Gallant’s death.