LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A man accused in a vicious attack that left a southern Alberta woman having to learn how to walk and talk again will have to wait until Friday to plead guilty after vehement opposition from the Crown.
Denzel Dre Colton Bird, 21, was charged after the 25-year-old woman was walking to work last September when she was struck with a weapon, dragged into an alley and sexually assaulted.
She was discovered by a passerby and taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries. The victim was released in late January and her family has said she continues to recover.
Bird is accused of attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated assault and break and enter.
More on Bird's arrest last fall:
Bird's lawyer, Tonii Roulston, told Lethbridge court Tuesday that her client wants to plead guilty to charges of aggravated sexual assault and break and enter. She said her client is prepared to accept the facts of the case.
She asked the judge for a forensic assessment of Bird's mental health and a sentencing date for sometime in January.
The Crown was opposed to the request.
"Somewhat unusually, the Crown is not willing to accept pleas today," said prosecutor Erin Olsen.
"The case report is not up to date with respect to some aspects of the case, including the victim's medical status."
"Just like the family of the victim, it's been hanging over his head as well and he is anxious to take responsibility for his actions."Bird's lawyer, Tonii Roulston
Olsen said people must also be given enough time to plan to attend court if they want to hear guilty pleas and the agreed statement of facts.
"We have not had the opportunity to properly inform the victims of the next steps we anticipate in this case."
Judge Gerry LeGrandeur said the guilty pleas could wait until Friday.
"I think an agreed statement of facts tends to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak," he said. "I'm not accepting anything. What's the difference in doing it on Friday?"
Despite delays, attacker wants to take responsibility
Roulston said outside court her client wants to get the matter over and done with.
"Just like the family of the victim, it's been hanging over his head as well and he is anxious to take responsibility for his actions."
Roulston said the Crown's position was disappointing but not unexpected.
"They did advise me on Thursday that they had issues with accepting the guilty pleas," she said. "However, it's not the Crown that accepts the pleas. It's the judge that accepts the pleas and he's willing to do that on Sept. 8."
Police have said there was no apparent connection between the accused and the woman.
The case has been marked by delays. Bird fired his original lawyer, then rehired him before firing him again and retaining Roulston.