03/22/2018 08:37 EDT | Updated 03/22/2018 12:01 EDT

Woman's throat cut: Alberta man beats attempted murder, guilty of sex assault

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A 20-year-old southern Alberta man who attacked a woman in her home before cutting her throat has been found not guilty of attempted murder but convicted of aggravated sexual assault.

Court heard that the man, who cannot be named because he was 17 at the time, entered an apartment in Lethbridge, Alta., in May 2015 and found the woman sleeping on a couch.

He sexually assaulted her and, when the woman's stepfather woke up and confronted the youth, dragged her outside to continue the sex assault.

He also cut her throat before he fled, but Judge Gregory Maxwell ruled that the Crown had failed to prove there was specific intent to kill.

But he did find convict the accused on the sex assault charge, as well as for break and enter to commit sexual assault, threats to cause death and unlawful confinement.

Maxwell said he didn't believe the accused's testimony that he had been home that night.

“When I consider the magnitude of the evidence that contradicts the accused's evidence that he never left his residence and did not attend the residence of [the victim], I come to what I consider the inevitable conclusion that he is lying,” Maxwell said in delivering his verdict Wednesday.

The woman, who was 45, survived a 14-centimetre cut to her throat, but she and her stepfather both died prior to the trial.

They were, however, able to provide statements to police in the hours after the attack. The stepfather provided a name, a description of the youth and his address. A search of the youth’s nearby home turned up a shirt that had the woman's DNA on it.

The young man testified that he had been attacked by four strangers a week earlier while walking in downtown Lethbridge. It was suggested that the woman could have been one of his attackers and that’s when her DNA came to be on his shirt.

“The inference sought is so remote and without any real basis in fact, as to make drawing it pure and complete speculation, and I am not prepared to make that leap,” Maxwell said. 

The defence has asked for a pre-sentence report, a psychological assessment and a Gladue report on the youth’s Indigenous heritage and upbringing.

Those reports will be used by the Crown to determine if an adult sentence should be sought. The youth was days away from his 18th birthday when he attacked the woman.

The case is to return to court in April for a progress update. The reports are expected to take upwards of two months to complete.

(Lethbridge News Now)

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