PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. â€” A Saskatchewan man convicted of beating and sexually assaulting a homeless woman before setting her clothes on fire has spoken up at his dangerous offender hearing.
Leslie Black pleaded guilty to attempted murder after his vicious attack on Marlene Bird in Prince Albert in 2014.
She was left with permanent damage to her eyesight and was so badly burned both legs had to be amputated.
Black read from a brief statement prepared with help from his court-appointed lawyer Brent Little.
Black said if he could go back to the night he attacked Bird, he would have taken his fatherâ€™s advice and stayed home.
He also said he understands that Bird and her family have not forgiven him, and he accepts any sentence he is given.
If Black is deemed a dangerous offender, he will be sent to prison indefinitely.
His lawyer warned the court on Tuesday that Blackâ€™s stutter, which he has had since witnessing his motherâ€™s murder when he was a child, could make him difficult to understand.
But despite his speech impediment, Black spoke clearly as he read from behind the glass of the prisonerâ€™s box.
â€œI apologize for what I did,â€ he said. â€œI still canâ€™t forgive myself.â€
Black said he is not a violent person and wants to get the help he needs to succeed in life.
â€œIâ€™m usually a happy-go-lucky guy.â€
Bird attended several days of the hearing, but was not in court to hear her attacker’s apology.
Judge Stanley Loewen told Black he would take his statement into account when making his decision.
No further evidence will be presented, but the hearing is to continue with submission of briefs and formal arguments from both sides in May.
The hearing heard from several mental-health professionals since it began March 13. One psychologist said Black is not necessarily at a high risk to reoffend if he gets intensive, long-term therapy.
But a psychiatrist testified that officials can’t presume to understand Black and what he’s capable of given what he did to Bird even though he had no history of violence.
He is to remain in custody at the Regina Correctional Centre until the judge makes a decision on Black’s fate.
The Canadian Press