The woman who entered a Prince Albert seniors’ living complex and assaulted an 89-year-old man last January entered a guilty plea to aggravated assault right before her trial was set to take place Wednesday.
In a Prince Albert Provincial Court room on May 24, 40-year-old April Ross was sentenced to four and a half years for pushing and severely injuring retired corrections officer Carl Klarenbach, with a seven-month credit for time served.
According to the agreed statement of facts, on the evening of Jan. 2, Klarenbach, his wife Bev, and several other Northcote Manor residents were playing cards on the complex’s main floor, when they noticed an unknown woman wandering around inside.
The group pressed Ross for answers as to why she was there. Ross replied that she was visiting someone in the building. The residents told her to leave, but Ross became aggravated and grabbed what was described by the Crown as a butter knife from the kitchen drawers and threatened to stab someone.
Crown Prosecutor MaryAnne Larson stated that Klarenbach grabbed a garbage can for protection, but was pushed back by the suspect, hitting his head on the ground where he almost immediately lost consciousness. Ross then fled the scene on foot.
Police were called to Northcote Manor following the assault and were met by EMS, who transported Klarenbach to hospital. He received a CT scan upon arrival, which revealed that he was suffering from a skull fracture.
Following interviews with witnesses, law enforcement searched for the suspect and located Ross matching the description several blocks away, an hour after the incident occurred.
During the ride in the police vehicle, Ross would admit to pushing Klarenbach, but claimed it was in self-defense. According to the officer’s report, Ross did not appear intoxicated during her arrest.
Since he was admitted, Klarenbach has been suffering from rapidly progressing dementia and cognitive impairment as a result of the fall. The physician undertaking Klarenbach’s care in the Victoria Hospital reported that because of his condition, the senior will not be discharged.
Carl’s son Curtis Klarenbach was in attendance during Ross’ sentencing, where he and his late mother’s victim impact statements were read before the court.
“April Ross has robbed us of so many things… I think she should be robbed of her future too,” Bev Klarenbach’s statement said.
Curtis wrote that his mother “died of a broken heart”, and he feels as if he has lost both of his parents.
Throughout the hearing, a distraught Ross could be heard crying from the prisoner’s box while saying she never meant to hurt Klarenbach.
Ross has a long criminal history dating back to 1997, with her record showing a number of convictions for assault causing bodily harm, robbery, and uttering threats.
A member of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Ross’ lawyer said she was physically and sexually abused as a child. Born to alcoholic parents, Ross grew up in and out of foster care prior to being on the streets and briefly spending time in a regional psychiatric center.
Because of her history, Ross is fearful of men and can react violently to confrontation, which is not an excuse but provides a picture of her life, said Ross’ lawyer.
When asked if she had anything to say, Ross apologized and said she wishes she could go back in time to change what happened.
“[It] shouldn’t have turned out this way,” said Ross. “I will have to live with this for the rest of my life.”
Judge Felicia Daunt said while Ross only pushed Klarenbach, the level of his injury is so severe and permanent that it could almost be considered manslaughter.
Daunt noted that she would make a recommendation that Ross’ remaining three year and seven-month sentence be served at a regional psychiatric centre.
Daunt told Ross that she hopes the sentence is long enough to work on herself.