A Red Deer man has been found guilty of attacking one man with a machete and threatening to attack another while hallucinating after smoking salvia.
On Jan. 15, 2011, John Casey Wenger, 28, used the machete after trying salvia, a psychoactive plant that has been known to induce hallucinatory experiences. He got into an altercation with a neighbour in his apartment complex.
Red Deer provincial court Judge Jim Mitchell found Wenger guilty on Tuesday of striking Robert Bruce Mills in the arm and shoulder blade with the machete.
Mills had stepped in front of his friend, Colton Hill, to protect him from being hit by the machete.
In the early morning hours of that Saturday, Wenger’s neighbours Hill and Mills were hanging out in Hill’s unit down the hall from Wenger with several people.
Wenger had been drinking that night.
According to testimony, the trio decided to use some salvia but only Wenger actually used the drug.
Immediately he began hallucinating.
He testified that he felt Lego blocks fall off the back of his head and that his mouth opened up and swallowed his head. He ran headlong into a wall like he was trying to go through it.
He turned on Mills and started attacking him. Will Willms, defence counsel for Wenger, said Mills attacked him and Wenger testified he only started fighting with Mills after Mills attacked him.
The judge found this testimony to be unreliable as Wenger was the only person who consumed salvia and was clearly hallucinating.
Eventually, Hill and Mills followed Wenger into his bedroom. They could see an object in his hand but they were unclear what it was.
As Wenger lifted it to strike, they realized it was a machete. Mills stood in front of Hill and raised his left forearm to deflect the blow.
The machete severely lacerated his arm. Mills testified he saw blood and muscles coming out of his arm. He ran and Wenger followed, delivering another glancing blow to Mills’ left shoulder blade.
Red Deer RCMP were called. They followed a trail of blood and screams to Wenger’s apartment.
Police found Wenger in his bedroom screaming loudly and flailing madly.
He would alternate between lying on the floor convulsing and jumping up and screaming again.
He was pepper-sprayed but continued flailing violently. It took several officers to get handcuffs on him and ultimately he was given a sedative by EMS and strapped to a stretcher before being taken to hospital.
At the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, he was given five doses of a sedative before he finally calmed down.
The trial spanned September 2012 to December 2013 before Mitchell delivered his verdict on Tuesday.
The judge found Wenger guilty of aggravated assault on Mills and assault on Hill. Charges of using a machete to assault Mills and carrying a machete for the purpose of committing an offence were stayed. Mitchell said this was because convicting him of those charges would violate the rule against multiple convictions for the same offence.
Wenger will be sentenced on April 30 in Red Deer provincial court.