A Sunchild First Nation woman who slashed her brother and stabbed a friend to death during an argument in 2018 was sentenced to four and a half years in prison Tuesday.
Chelsey Lagrelle, 25, had earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the murder of Samantha Sharpe, 25, after an evening of drinking and watching movies along with her brother, Ashton Lagrelle, who was Sharpe’s fiancé.
At some point in the early hours of Dec. 12, 2018, an argument broke out and Chelsey, who had been drinking heavily, grabbed a steak knife off a coffee table. She swung at her brother several times, cutting his knee.
When Samantha tried to intervene, Chelsey stabbed her twice. The first wound was shallow but the second thrust pierced her heart and a lung and she died at the scene.
“This was a tragic and utterly senseless loss of a young life,” said Red Deer provincial court Judge Jim Hunter in sentencing.
“Her loss has left a significant void in the lives of so many that will never be filled.”
Earlier in the day, Sharpe’s friends and family described their heartbreaking loss in victim impact statements.
Samantha’s mother, Priscilla Sharpe, said the last time she saw her daughter was when she dropped her off at work at a local truck stop a day before her death.
“Had I known that was going to be the last time, I would have hugged her a little bit more and told her I loved her,” she said her voice breaking
“I was so proud of her. She was such a beautiful soul,” she read. “It’s like a bad dream with no ending.”
Samantha overcame a near-fatal car accident in the summer of 2017 that left her badly burned with numerous broken bones.
She required months of rehabilitation but remained in good spirits and returned to work as soon as she could, said her mother.
Whatever sentence Lagrelle gets, it will not compare to her life sentence, she said as Lagrelle sat in the prisoner’s dock, her head bowed.
“The pain does not go away. This will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Later in the morning, the mother suffered chest pains and had to be taken to hospital by family members.
Neil Sharpe said his daughter was the “light of my family’s heart.
“I would have given anything to be around her when she passed to tell her again how much I loved her and how proud I was.”
Sister Valerie Goodrunning said her days now are long and emotional and she has suffered panic attacks and struggles to sleep.
“I think about how I’ll never get those moments to be a big sister again,” she said. “She was fearless, courageous and was my inspiration.”
Samantha was passionate about animals and spent her spare time rescuing dogs and cats on the reserve. She kept stocks of pet food to give to those who could not afford their own.
Marcella Goodrunning said she replays the day of her younger sister’s death in her head over and over again and has a constant ache in her heart.
“She had many amazing qualities that made her unique.”
Last week, she went to tend Samantha’s gravesite. “Never in a million years did I think I would be doing that.
“I often wonder if this will ever end. Will I ever wake up from this nightmare. My heart is forever broken beyond repair.”
Lagrelle apologized to the family in court for taking Samantha’s life.
“She had the biggest heart, the most beautiful smile and the greatest laugh.
“I take full responsibility for the cause of her death and I want you all to know how deeply and truly sorrow I am.”
She said she knows the family has many questions about what happened and why but she has no answers herself.
“All I know was a precious life was taken by me and I’m truly sorry for that.”
Crown prosecutor Greg Gordon asked for a sentence of five years minus time served in custody.
Defence lawyer Alain Hepner said if Lagrelle is given 18 months credit for time served in remand centres and in a treatment centre a two-year sentence was appropriate.
Hepner said Lagrelle had been sexually assaulted as a five-year-old and suffered mental health and substance abuse issues for much of her life. She had attempted suicide three times and was diagnosed with an underlying borderline personality disorder and struggled with impulse control and other mental health issues.
The judge gave Lagrelle credit for 10.5 months in custody using a 1.5-day-per-day served formula. She also must provide a DNA sample to a national database and has a lifetime firearms prohibition.
The judge agreed to recommend that she serve her time in the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge prison in Maple Creek, Sask.