Judge to rule on parole eligibility for convicted murderer
An Eskasoni man convicted of second-degree murder will learn next week how much time he must serve of a life sentence before becoming eligible to apply for parole.
Albert Michael Bernard, 37, was convicted in November in the beating death of Dale Frank Dennis, 36, on July 4, 2015, in Eskasoni.
While a murder conviction carries an automatic prison sentence of life, in cases of second-degree, a court or jury decides how much time an offender must serve before becoming eligible to begin applying for parole. The minimum period to be served is 10 years and the maximum is 25 years.
After hearing arguments Tuesday from Crown prosecutor Darcy MacPherson and defence lawyer Darlene MacRury, Supreme Court Justice Robin Gogan reserved decision until May 16.
MacPherson recommended Bernard serve between 17 to 18 years before becoming parole eligible while MacRury recommended 10 years.
In finding Bernard guilty of the offence after a 12-day trial, Gogan described the attack on Dennis as “intense and focused.” Bernard testified in his own defence.
“I find that the accused was motivated by ill will when he attacked Dale Dennis … the nature of the attack satisfies me that the accused intended to cause the kind of serious bodily harm that he knew would likely cause death and continued to anyway,” Gogan said.
What prompted Bernard’s rage against Dennis was his belief that his longtime girlfriend was cheating on him with Dennis.
Evidence at the trial indicated Dennis was beaten beyond recognition. Bernard had used such force he broke his hand.
In addition to punches, Dennis was also kicked repeatedly around the head and neck along with his groin area. At the time of the attack, Bernard was wearing steel-toed boots.
“One can imagine such blows inflicting serious injuries on someone trying to resist. In this case, however, there is no evidence of any resistance whatsoever. The accused carried out virtually the entire beating while Dale Dennis lay helpless and unconscious on the ground,” said Gogan, in finding Bernard guilty of the offence.
A total of 15 victim impact statements were filed with the court from the family and friends of Dennis.
Six individuals read their statements in court although William Martin, father of Dennis, started his statement but his emotions got the best of him and he was unable to read the full statement.
A father of eight daughters, Dennis was described as an individual always willing to help out others.
“Everyday my heart aches for Dale. He will always live in our hearts even though our hearts are broken,” said Valerie Francis, who is mother to two daughters of Dennis.
MacPherson argued that Bernard has displayed little or no remorse and blames his actions on alcohol and anger. Evidence at the trial indicated Bernard was drunk at the time he hit Dennis but there was no evidence as to the degree of intoxication.
MacRury urged the court to focus on Bernard’s aboriginal background to understand how his life was shaped by alcohol abuse and physical violence.
In two reports prepared for the court, it was noted Bernard grew up in a violent home and carried a lot of anger forward in his life as a result.
She said since his arrest, nearly two years ago, he has been on remand and not recorded one infraction while in jail.