A Prince Albert man accused of a brutal 2014 assault attempted to take back his original guilty plea on Wednesday.
The expungement hearing of Leslie Black concluded in P.A. provincial court Wednesday, only to be adjourned until next month. Black pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Marlene Bird in June 2014, an attack which left Bird horribly burned, nearly blind and in need of a double leg amputation.
The accused claimed he asked for the expungement because he didn’t understand the repercussions of a guilty plea.
He told the court he pleaded guilty because he “just wanted to get it over with”. During his previous encounters with the justice system, Black said he normally pleaded to lesser charges and went on his way.
Lawyer/client confidentiality was waived when his former legal aid lawyer Adam Masiowski took the witness stand to detail his involvement in Black’s case.
Much of the confusion seemed to stem from the possibility of Black being designated a Dangerous Offender (DO).
Masiowski said he’d told Black being listed as a DO could mean spending the rest of his life in jail. However, he told his client this scenario was unlikely.
Black’s defence council Brent Little argued Masiowski had not fully explained what being listed as a DO could mean. When on the witness stand earlier in the day, Black said he would never have pleaded guilty had he known.
Masiowski claimed he told Black if he was registered as a DO, he could be in prison for the rest of his life or be out after 12 years. He admitted he’d never told Black the option of parole on a DO is after seven years, since he knew the Crown was seeking a sentence of 10 to 12 years.
Transcripts from one of Black’s numerous appearances in court showed a judge had talked directly to Black about DOs, to which Black had told the judge he understood.
When pressed, Black said he wasn’t sure why he hadn’t spoken up earlier in court about the matter.
Masiowski said there was a “child-like quality” to Black, that he was soft-spoken and complicated legal ideas were not his “forte”.
The lawyer withdrew from Black’s case on Aug. 11, claiming Black was denying certain statements of fact. Those facts were brought up again before the court.
While in the witness chair, Black said he did not burn Bird, instead he had stomped on her face until she was unconscious. But he’d told police he had burned Bird because he was stressed and scared.
Little said expungements are rare, having dealt with three over the past 10 years. He added, however, he’s been successful in his previous expungement hearings.
If the charges against Black are not expunged, the matter will proceed to sentencing. Little said if the judge sides with Black and the charges are expunged then the matter would return to “square one”.
Court will reconvene May 12.