A Sunchild First Nation woman has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with a December 2018 slaying.
Chelsey Lagrelle was charged after RCMP, responding to a call of a person in distress around 2:30 a.m., found the body of Samantha Sharpe, 25, in a residence on the reserve northwest of Rocky Mountain House. She had been stabbed to death, and a 24-year-old man was injured.
Lagrelle was arrested without incident at another location and charged with manslaughter and assault with a weapon, said Rocky Mountain House RCMP at the time.
About a dozen of Sharpe’s familiy members and other supporters were at the Red Deer courthouse Monday to watch the proceedings.
Some were not happy Lagrelle pleaded guilty to manslaughter and the assault charge was to be withdrawn. While manslaughter was the original charge laid, Crown prosecutors later upgraded it to the more serious charge of second-degree murder.
Assistant chief Crown prosecutor Ed Ring said the decision to accept the guilty plea for manslaughter was made after prosecutors reviewed the case.
“I can tell you in the prosecution’s view, there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction with respect to the lesser, included offence of manslaughter (and) not a reasonable likelihood of conviction on the charge of second-degree murder.
“Once the Crown assesses that there is not a reasonable likelihood of conviction on any particular charge, we’re duty bound to not proceed with that prosecution,” he said.
“In particular here, the issue revolves around the element of requisite intent. In this case, intent to kill.”
Ring said that while the assault charge is to be withdrawn, the facts that supported that charge will be before the court when sentencing is addressed.
Sharpe’s family said it want Lagrelle to face the maximum penalty, which is life in prison.
Ring said he could not say what sentence prosecutors will seek.
Lagrelle, who was earlier released from custody on a number of conditions, is due back in court Jan. 27, when an agreed statement of facts will be entered into the record.
That Lagrelle was not in custody also upset Sharpe’s supporters.
Ring said allowing an accused to be released with bail conditions is not a “trivial decision.
“The circumstances here, in our view, warranted this lady being granted release prior to either preliminary inquiry or trial, or finding of guilt. The relatively strict conditions she was released under remain in effect. There has been no changes to those.”
A presentence report and psychiatric assessment are expected to be prepared ahead of sentencing, which would happen later next year.