Judge to rule on pa­role el­i­gi­bil­ity for con­victed mur­derer

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF

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.



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