Great-grand­fa­ther de­nied bail

Lethbridge Herald - - HOMETOWN NEWS - Tim Kali­nowski

A 61-year-old great-grand­fa­ther from the Blood Re­serve ac­cused of traf­fick­ing in crack co­caine and car­fen­tanil was de­nied bail on Thurs­day in Leth­bridge pro­vin­cial court.

Richard Prairie Chicken, who re­sides in Moses Lake, was charged with traf­fick­ing along­side his co-ac­cused Duane Small Eyes af­ter a search war­rant ex­e­cuted by the Blood Tribe Po­lice Ser­vice un­cov­ered 21.5 grams of crack co­caine, nine car­fen­tanil tablets, oxy­codon, assorted drug para­pher­na­lia, pre­paid credit cards and nearly $400 in cash at Prairie Chicken’s res­i­dence.

Fed­eral Crown at­tor­ney Chris Wil­liams ar­gued against Prairie Chicken’s re­lease, cit­ing the mass of drugs seized in the po­lice search and the de­fen­dant’s past his­tory of fail­ures to com­ply with court or­ders on pre­vi­ous charges.

What made Prairie Chicken’s ar­rest dif­fer­ent from other ac­cused drug deal­ers’ ar­rests, Wil­liams ar­gued, was the deadly na­ture of the car­fen­tanil, in par­tic­u­lar, Prairie Chicken was al­legedly traf­fick­ing. Wil­liams ex­plained to Judge Sylvia Oishi there had been over three dozen over­doses on sus­pected car­fen­tanil on the Blood Re­serve in the past month, some of those over­doses lead­ing to death.

“Peo­ple who are traf­fick­ing in car­fen­tanil are ped­alling death,” Wil­liams con­cluded.

De­fence at­tor­ney Vin­cent Guinan of Con­nolly and As­so­ci­ates ar­gued force­fully that Wil­liams’ char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Prairie Chicken did not truly rep­re­sent his client’s cir­cum­stances or na­ture. Guinan said his client was ad­dicted to all the sub­stances he was ac­cused of sell­ing, be­com­ing a drug ad­dict af­ter a work­place in­jury left him in con­stant pain.

Guinan said Prairie Chicken lived on the Blood Re­serve, and knew all the in­di­vid­u­als or their fam­ily mem­bers who had died of over­doses in the past year. Guinan ar­gued his client, who is a great­grand­fa­ther with no money to his name, should be re­leased on no-cash bail and be al­lowed to re­turn to his home in Moses Lake un­der strict cur­few and re­lease con­di­tions, in­clud­ing that he ac­tively seek en­try into a treat­ment pro­gram to help him over­come his ad­dic­tions.

In the end, Oishi found the Crown’s ar­gu­ment the more com­pelling one, and de­nied Prairie Chicken bail.

Prairie Chicken and Small Eyes are each charged with two counts of drug posses­sion for the pur­pose of traf­fick­ing, and sin­gle counts of drug posses­sion and posses­sion of stolen prop­erty.

Prairie Chicken’s next court ap­pear­ance will be on Dec. 17 in Card­ston pro­vin­cial court.

Prairie Chicken’s al­leged ac­com­plice, Duane Small Eyes, is set to ap­pear in Leth­bridge Pro­vin­cial Court for a bail hear­ing on Dec. 13.

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