Preliminary hearing set for Stettler man charged with second-degree murder

Savage kept in protective custody in Edmonton Remand Centre

A Stettler man charged with second-degree murder will have a January preliminary hearing in Red Deer.

John Roland Savage, 51, appeared in Stettler provincial court Thursday via closed circuit television from Edmonton Remand Centre.

Savage was charged in connection to the death of James Hulkovich, 71.

He hasn’t entered a plea.

Savage’s lawyer Jason Snider told the court that Savage is being held in the protective custody unit at the remand centre.

Savage escaped from Stettler hospital before he allegedly committed the murder in April.

Stettler RCMP received a report of a suicidal male with a machete just before 2 a.m. on April 6.

Police located Savage and discovered a machete concealed under his shirt. He was taken into custody under the Mental Health Act and held at the Stettler hospital for self-harm and threatening suicide. He later escaped before allegedly killing a Stettler man, prosecutor Gordon Hatch told the court last month.

Stettler RCMP confirmed Savage was arrested in Stettler on the morning of April 6 and taken to the Stettler hospital where he was placed under watch by hospital security. Savage, however, fled the hospital sometime that afternoon – hours before he allegedly killed James Hulkovich, who lived about a block from the hospital.

On April 6 RCMP found Hulkovich dead in his Stettler home and made a public plea to locate his stolen white 2008 Ford F-150 truck.

On April 7 at about 8 p.m., police located the truck on Hwy 13 near Wetaskiwin and took two adult males and females into custody. Savage was injured during the arrest and taken to an Edmonton hospital. Police released the other male and two females without charges. While in the hospital on April 10 RCMP Major Crimes Unit (MCU) charged Savage with second-degree murder.

An autopsy by the Calgary Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on April 10 determined Hulkovich’s death was a homicide.

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