A Chilliwack man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in an alcohol-fuelled stabbing death of a Good Samaritan has been sentenced to eight years behind bars.
The sentence of Kirkland Joseph Russell is a slap in the face for the mother of Douglas Presseau who was killed in cold blood as he tried to help a stranger in 2017.
|Douglas Presseau was acting as a Good Samaritan on July 7, 2017 when he was stabbed 14 times by Kirkland Russell. Russell was sentenced to eight years in jail on March 6, 2019. (Handout)|
“A murderer was just sentenced to eight years in prison after stabbing a Good Samaritan 14 times,” Barbara Presseau told The Progress after sentencing Wednesday morning in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster.
“We are disgusted by a legal system that allows a murderer to plead guilty to manslaughter because ‘extreme drunkenness, at least in part, eliminated the required intent needed to prove murder.’ It is shameful that a person convicted of over 50 crimes was free to murder and will be free again in less than six years, because of accumulating time and a half.
“Our grief over the loss of our beloved Doug is now compounded with this shocking injustice.”
Justice Terence Schultes handed down the sentence March 6 in New Westminster, following a sentencing hearing in early February in Chilliwack.
Having been in custody since July 21, 2017, or 594 days, with time already served, Russell is sentenced to five more years plus 205 days in prison.
In his sentencing decision, Schultes described Russell’s life as “tumultuous,” filled with parental abandonment, childhood trauma which included sexual and physical abuse while in foster care and a lack of connection with his Indigenous culture.
Schultes determined it was these “unique and systemic” factors that played a pivotal role in Russell’s alcoholism, and his extreme intoxication during the bloody and violent confrontation between he and Presseau.
According to evidence presented at trial, Presseau had attempted to help Russell’s girlfriend Bobbi Burris who herself had been stabbed somehow. Russell turned on the Good Samaritan, violently attacking him with a large knife, stabbing him more than a dozen times, once in the heart killing him.
Presseau was stabbed 14 times, according to the coroner’s report, with a wound to the chest being the direct cause of his death. As he stabbed Presseau, Russell yelled “Why won’t you f—-ing die?”
Minutes earlier that night after Party in the Park downtown, Steven Drage was killed with a knife attack near Russell and his friends, but no witnesses saw the attack so no one has been charged in that case.
Presseau’s mother addressed those who tried to help her son that night, and the unsolved Drage killing.
“We want to thank all those who came forward in Doug’s defence, all those who worked hard to discover the truth of what happened on the horrendous night and all those who offered medical assistance,” Barb said.
“We also want to express our sorrow for the family and friends of Steve Drage, who was also murdered that night and receives no justice at all. “
The court heard that over the course of the day in 2017, Russell had drank more than two 15-packs of beer and other alcohol. The extreme drunkenness meant the Crown would have been unable to prove the intent required to for second-degree murder.
This was Russell’s fifth crime involving a knife, following a lengthy wrap sheet which included nearly 50 convictions as a youth and 18 as an adult.
In his sentencing remarks, Schultes also pointed to Russell’s diagnosis of ADD, fetal alcoholism and depression as considerations in his troubled past and use of crystal meth as early as age 13.
Aggravating factors included the “truly appalling” attack on an innocent person, fleeing the scene, Russell’s previous convictions and his initial denial of suffering from alcoholism.
“A sentencing is incapable of reflecting Mr. Presseau’s life,” Schultes said, while looking to the handful of family, each sombre, sitting in the courtroom.
During his statement in a Chilliwack courtroom in February, Russell voiced remorse for his actions that night, his interest in attending a healing lodge in Harrison Mills, and in participating in a victim-offender reconciliation program.
While in prison, Schultes said he would be recommending that all programs and resources be made to Russell, as he has shown “the willingness of rehabilitation.”
Russell’s co-accused Victoria Sherri Purcell reportedly egged Russell on during the attack. She was also originally charged with second-degree murder, but a stay of proceedings was ordered in her case on Feb. 20.