CALGARY - A judge has ruled a woman convicted of murdering a man in his bathtub should not get bail while she appeals because she is a flight risk and a possible threat to the general public.
Connie Oakes was convicted by a jury two years ago in the death of Casey Armstrong. He was found stabbed through the neck in his trailer in Medicine Hat, Alta., in 2011.
Oakes was convicted of second-degree murder and her co-accused, Wendy Scott, pleaded guilty to the same charge. Court documents show Scott has since retracted her confession as well as her testimony at trial.
Oakes, who was given a life sentence with no chance of parole for 14 years, calls her conviction an "unreasonable verdict.'' Her appeal in the case is to be heard Nov. 12.
Justice Brian O’Ferrall cited several reasons for denying her request to be let out of prison until her appeal is heard.
"Unfortunately, there are serious concerns about the appellant’s flight risk. Although she has offered her undertaking to appear as required, and a release plan, the appellant has a lengthy history of failing to attend and failing to comply with court orders," O'Ferrall wrote in a decision released Monday.
He said Oakes has been convicted of failing to attend court or failing to appear 14 times since 1984.
The judge also expressed concern about Oakes being a danger to the public if she were to be released.
"The appellant has failed to satisfy me that she is not a threat to the public. She has a terrible criminal record and the crime for which she has been convicted (second-degree murder) is one of the most serious."
O'Ferrall said some evidence put before him suggested that Oakes had reformed somewhat while incarcerated, but he's not convinced.
"I am not satisfied that her risk of reoffending while on release pending appeal is sufficiently low as to justify her release until November of this year when her appeal is scheduled to be heard."
He said public respect for the administration of justice in a "brutal murder" would be undermined if the jury's guilty verdict was not given sufficient weight.
He also said a desire by Oakes to be released to visit one of her sons who appears to be dying of cancer is not sufficient for him to grant her release.
"I do not wish to minimize the personal tragedy which the appellant’s son and the appellant face. Unfortunately, the health of family members is not a basis upon which the Criminal Code permits me to release the appellant."
Oakes is serving her sentence in Edmonton.
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