Even drunk, 73 stabs equals murder, says judge

He may have been drunk, but a man who stabbed another man 73 times with three different knives showed such "chilling clarity" into his actions there is no way to conclude this was anything but murder, a judge said Monday.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Richard Blair convicted Cory Peter Bird of the second-degree murder of Albert Michell, whose body was found by a family rotting in a Lytton apartment Aug. 17, 2008.

Michell's naked body had been covered with a sheet. Investigators determined the man had been dead for days. The officers also found links to Bird in the apartment, who had not been seen in the small Fraser River community since at least Aug. 17, 2008.

Bird was arrested in Montreal Aug. 20, 2008, after he holed up in a Canada Post office as police pursued him for a dine-and-dash. Following a brief standoff, he was arrested and told police he'd killed someone in B.C. as part of a "gang initiation."

His story changed later, when he told officers he was drunk and Michell made an unwanted sexual pass at him. Bird told police he woke up to find the older man performing oral sex on him. He admitted stabbing the man, although he thought he hit him no more than seven times. He also conceded he went to the apartment's kitchen to get a different knife after he broke the blade of one of the first weapons he reached for.

The accused man's defence lawyers argued Bird was too drunk at the time to be found guilty of murder. As well, the sexual abuse provoked him to kill, the defence said, and he acted in self-defence.

Justice Blair dismissed the last two defence suggestions as lacking any "air of reality." But he weighed the possibility Bird was too drunk to be found guilty of murder, ultimately deciding Bird's intoxication wasn't enough for the exceptionally violent crime to be considered a manslaughter.

In particular, the man's conversations with police show he knew what was going on, the judge ruled.

After his arrest, Bird told investigators things like, "I was thinking, I need to kill the guy for whatever . . . whatever reason I had.

"I knew I was going to jail as soon as I did it."

Justice Blair said such "chilling clarity" shows Bird understood what he was doing, even if he was drunk.

"He was operating with foresight of the deadly consequences of his actions," said the judge, in a lengthy written judgment.

A date has not yet been set for Bird's sentence hearing. He has been in jail since his arrest in August 2008.

Bird faces a life sentence with no possibility of parole for at least 10 years. It's not yet known if the Crown will seek a longer period of parole ineligibility.

Justice Blair heard Bird's trial in Kamloops without a jury, starting in September and ending in December.

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