The Crown wants convicted killer Mark Lange sent to a federal prison – possibly for the rest of his life.
Lawyers were in Yukon territorial court Friday arguing whether Lange, 40, should be named a dangerous offender, a rare and extreme label for Canadian criminals.
A convicted criminal is usually given sentence that has an end date when he or she must be released.
A dangerous offender designation means Lange could get an indeterminate sentence. If that happens, it would be up to the Correctional Services of Canada and the National Parole Board to decide when – if ever – he was rehabilitated enough to return to life in the public.
Judge Donald Luther will make his decision about Lange in November.
Lange pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm after attacking another man outside the Whitehorse Salvation Army in June of last year.
In the surveillance video Lange is seen punching the man, kicking him repeatedly and brutally stomping on his head multiple times.
“The extreme level of violence, unprovoked violence at that… is profoundly disturbing,” prosecutor Noel Sinclair said in court.
Lange has a criminal record that spans 24 years with 42 convictions, the court heard.
He is likely most well known for pleading guilty to manslaughter in the 2004 death of Carcross hotelier Bob Olson.
Lange and Dean Boucher were originally convicted of second degree murder for beating Olsen to death and dumping his body in a snow bank.
After a successful appeal they both pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in 2012 and were released not long after.
The judge ruled that Lange was a lesser participant in Olson’s death than Boucher.
To be designated a dangerous offender Sinclair needs to show that Lange has demonstrated a pattern of repetitive, unrestrained, violent behavior. To get an indeterminate sentence, he also needs to show that evidence of Lange’s treatability is not strong enough to warrant anything less.
Sinclair pointed to other changes on Lange’s record including a 1998 conviction for assault causing bodily harm and forcible entry, when Lange and a “posse” of friends kicked in a man’s door and beat him.
That same year he was convicted of spousal assault for choking his partner and throwing her to the ground.
A report by forensic psychiatrist Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe says intense anger is part of Lange’s make-up.
Lange is a high risk for violence for the foreseeable future, it says. Before he could be released into the community, Lange needs to have a track record of being honest and co-operative.
In 2012, when Lange and Boucher were sentenced for Olson’s death, the Crown tried and failed to have them designated as either long-term offenders or dangerous offenders.
At that time Lohrasbe had a much different opinion of Lange. He found him to be a low to moderate risk for reoffending. Lange had been sober for seven years and was taking advantage of the programming in prison, he said.
Lange has the ability to persuade people he’s doing better, Sinclair said last week, “but if you look at his actions they speak much more loudly and violently than words.”
If Lange does well in prison he may eventually be able to convince officials to release him, Sinclair argued, but right now the risk of failure is simply too high to put an end date on his sentence.
Lange’s lawyer, Gordon Coffin, urged the judge to consider something less serious than an indeterminate sentence. He suggested something like a six to seven-year prison sentence followed by a lengthy supervision order would be more appropriate.
After being convicted of murder and then granted an appeal, Lange went from being someone with a life sentence to freedom very quickly. He didn’t have time to prepare for the transition, Coffin said.
A lengthy sentence would give Lange time to get treatment and prepare to come back to society, he said.
Coffin pointed out that while someone with an indeterminate sentence can in theory earn his way out of prison, an official who testified from Correctional Services of Canada couldn’t say if that ever actually happened.
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