Armed robbery lands artist more jail time
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A local man known for his art which he created while previously incarcerated will spend more time behind bars after receiving a sentence of nearly four years on Wednesday.
Edward Southwind pleaded guilty to robbery with a firearm in the Court of King’s Bench after Crown and defence lawyers struck a deal on what would have otherwise been the start of a three-day trial.
According to the facts read by Crown attorney Brett Rach in court Wednesday, during the late afternoon on Nov. 13, 2020, Southwind recruited two men in a plan to rob a man with whom he had been upset at the time.
The trio went to the man’s apartment in Brandon and having known the tenant, the group was buzzed into the apartment.
Southwind entered the apartment first, knowing the two other men behind him had weapons — a can of bear mace and a machete. Once the three men were inside the residence, the victim was slapped twice in the face with the side of the machete. The can of bear spray was also pointed in the face of the man and his daughter, who was also in the apartment at the time.
No one sustained any injuries, but the thieves did steal various items from the residence, including a gold chain, two cellphones, jewelry valued at $6,000, two car keys, a tablet and two non-restricted firearms. The stolen firearms have never been found.
Late last year, one of Southwind’s accomplices, Andrew Medicine, was sentenced to three years and six months for robbery with a weapon. According to previous court proceedings, it was Medicine who brandished the can of bear spray during the incident.
The third man charged in relation to the robbery, David French, was scheduled for trial alongside Southwind; however, the Crown dropped the charges against French on Wednesday as prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence.
Since Southwind has already served more than a year in jail, that time will count toward the sentence he received on Wednesday. The 36-year-old will continue to serve the remainder of his sentence at Headingley Correctional Centre, where he can take advantage of programming the facility offers to inmates, said Southwind’s lawyer, Andrew Synyshyn.
The court heard about Southwind’s drawings, which he created while serving out a sentence at Brandon Correctional Centre and were later featured at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in 2017.
Since then, Southwind has become known in the community for his art, Synyshyn said. The defence lawyer described his client’s art as “beautiful” and explained how it recognizes Southwind’s heritage as an Indigenous person and the trauma he has experienced.
Now, Southwind has an opportunity to use his artistic talents to overcome his addiction issues behind bars and eventually upon release, his lawyer said.
“The hope is that he can find some kind of peace through his talents and use those for productive ends,” Synyshyn told the court. “Ultimately, you have someone here that has accepted responsibility for the actions that he took part in November of 2020, and he has done so understanding that this means he will be remaining in custody.”
Judge Elliott Leven agreed with the sentence of three years and eight months, and encouraged Southwind to pursue his art.
“It strikes me as a very promising way for you to be productive, imaginative, and to build a future career for the day when you’re released.”
But the judge reminded Southwind to behave in jail and avoid racking up any more time behind bars.
“You do have your work cut out for you, but you do have some promising [prospects] and a promising future if you should pursue it,” Leven told Southwind.
In addition to his jail sentence, Southwind also received a lifetime weapons prohibition.
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