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CanadaAlberta prosecutors quietly stay murder charge in prison stabbing

17:06  16 april  2019
17:06  16 april  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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Alberta prosecutors quietly stay murder charge in prison stabbing © CBC Mason Tex Montgrand was stabbed multiple times in August 2011 while serving time at the Edmonton Institution.

It appears no one will ever be held accountable for the August 2011 killing of Mason Tex Montgrand.

The 21-year-old was stabbed repeatedly while he was serving time at the Edmonton Institution. The incident was captured on videotape.

CBC News has learned that last October, after years of legal wrangling, the Crown quietly stayed a first-degree murder charge for a second time.

Lance Matthew Regan, 31, had been charged in 2011 with Montgrand's first-degree murder. After it took more than five years to get to trial, an Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench justice stayed the charge in October 2016.

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It was the first time in Canada that a murder charge was stayed under the Jordan decision, a 2016 ruling of the Supreme Court that set a ceiling of 30 months on the time between the laying of charges and the beginning of a trial in superior court. In provincial courts, the ceiling is 18 months.

The Crown successfully fought the decision and on Feb. 8, 2018, the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial.

Regan decided to take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada, seeking leave to appeal.

But on Oct. 4, 2018 — before the country's highest court had even announced a decision — the Crown quietly stayed the first-degree murder charge against him.

In a written statement, Alberta Justice spokesperson Jason Maloney said, "A key duty of a Crown prosecutor is to review their case on an ongoing basis and ensure that there is a continual assessment of the existing evidence as well as any new information or material.

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"In the Regan case, the prosecutor determined that a stay of proceedings was appropriate and the charges were stayed on Oct. 4, 2018."

Maloney confirmed no one else has been charged with murdering Montgrand.

Three weeks after the Alberta Crown had made its decision to stay the murder charge, the Supreme Court declined to hear Regan's case. Had the charges not been stayed, the trial would have begun March 25, 2019.

High-profile criminal defence lawyer Brian Beresh has no connection to the case but described the Crown's decision to abandon the trial as very surprising.

"I'm very surprised because I recall the public outcry when the stay was entered," Beresh said. "It's very unusual unless there was some development that occurred — such as the death of a witness potentially, loss of evidence, that sort of thing.

"But that would have been apparent beforehand or at least we'd expect the prosecution to make that public so that the public can understand it."

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'I think the public has a right to know'

Beresh admitted he was also surprised that the decision was made without any public announcement.

"Absolutely," Beresh said. "I mean, the public seems to want to know and the police are certainly eager to let the public know when any of our clients are charged. But the disposition, particularly if there's an acquittal or a stay, is hardly ever publicized.

Alberta prosecutors quietly stay murder charge in prison stabbing © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation PA Now

"I think the public has a right to know."

Beresh estimates that up to $100,000, including Crown costs and Legal Aid lawyers, could have been spent taking the case to the Alberta Court of Appeal and during the attempt to take it to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Regan's criminal defence lawyer,  Marshall Hopkins, declined to comment.

Kept behind bars

In 2011, Regan was given a seven-year sentence in Prince Albert, Sask., after he was found guilty of extortion, forcible confinement, aggravated assault and a number of other charges related to a pair of home invasions, committed with the use of a sawed-off shotgun and knife.

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Local newspaper articles at the time identified Regan as a member of Terror Squad, a Saskatchewan gang affiliated with the Hell's Angels.

Five months into his sentence, Regan said staff at the Edmonton Institution placed him with rival gang member, Mason Montgrand. During an unsuccessful 2017 parole board hearing, Regan described what happened next.

Alberta prosecutors quietly stay murder charge in prison stabbing © Sam Martin/CBC News Sam Martin/CBC News

"In discussing your murder charges that were stayed, you said that another inmate from a rival gang had attacked you by throwing hot water on your face and he had in his possession a razor-blade type of weapon. You protected your life by stabbing him in self-defence."

In denying Regan's bid for early release, the parole board noted: "You remain a high risk for violent recidivism."

Regan's federal sentence on the home invasion charges ended March 8, 2018 — one month after the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial in the death of Montgrand.

Because of the murder charge, Regan remained behind bars until he was granted bail on Aug. 17, 2018.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, a civil suit filed by Regan against the warden and staff at the Edmonton Institution was also settled out of court. Regan launched the suit in 2013 and sought $150,000 in damages. Settlement details are not known, due to a non-disclosure agreement.

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