The parole board has turned down a request from Michael Bridges, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Brandonite Erin Chorney in 2005, for escorted leaves from prison. (FILE PHOTO)
WINNIPEG — Michael Bridges murdered a young Brandon woman, buried her body in someone else’s grave and then hid his deadly secret.
Now the notorious killer — whose crime was eventually exposed by a Mr. Big RCMP sting — wants federal prison officials to show him the type of mercy he never afforded his victim, the Free Press has learned.
Bridges, 33, is currently serving a life sentence with no chance of parole until the year 2029. But that didn’t stop him from recently applying for escorted leaves from prison by citing compassionate grounds.
Bridges says a family member is terminally ill and wants to spend time with the person in hospital. Specific reference to the identity of the male relative is blacked out in parole documents obtained this week.
However, Bridges’ request was quickly shot down for several reasons, including the brutal nature of his crime and the views of the family of his victim, Erin Chorney. An impact statement written earlier this year was presented at the hearing.
"It describes the devastating toll that your offending has taken on your victim’s family," the parole board writes.
Bridges and Chorney, 18, had been involved in a stormy relationship which ended shortly before he killed her in Brandon back in 2002. However, the case would remain unsolved until 2004, and Chorney’s family members still held out hope she might still be alive.
During an elaborate RCMP operation, Bridges calmly explained how he choked Chorney unconscious, then cut the cord off his mother’s hair dryer and used it to strangle Chorney. When she didn’t die, he submerged her head in his bathtub for nearly 20 minutes.
Bridges then carried her body to a nearby cemetery, dug up a freshly covered grave and placed her inside.
Bridges was convicted in 2005 of first-degree murder and lost a subsequent appeal.
He had tried to claim he was innocent and actually a victim of police entrapment — despite having specific knowledge of the crime that only the killer would have known.
Parole documents show he has completed numerous family violence and anger management programs while behind bars, upgraded his education and is now deemed a low-enough risk that he was moved to a minimum-security penitentiary earlier this year.
Bridges has also expressed interest in taking part in a future restorative justice process with Chorney’s family "so that they can get what they need from me." It’s a remarkable change of position given that Bridges has never actually admitted he killed Chorney. No meeting has been scheduled, as the Chorney family would have to agree for it to happen.
As part of his request for escorted leaves, Bridges put forward a detailed proposal on how they would work. He would travel from prison to hospital in a Correctional Services of Canada vehicle with at least one armed escort. He would also be allowed to stop for a meal at a restaurant during the trip, which was estimated to last at least nine hours total on each occasion.
But the parole board said no. They questioned the relationship Bridges has with the sick family member, saying their own research shows there has been little contact between them since he has been in prison. There have only been nine in-person prison visits along with occasional telephone contact.
"Given the nature and gravity of your offending and the lack of information to suggest a substantial relationship between you and the person with whom you would visit, your request for a package of temporary absences is not approved," the board wrote.
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 20, 2014