News / Halifax

Nova Scotia man gets jail time for stabbing death after fight over woman

Cody Alexander Russell of North Sydney, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the 2015 stabbing death of Stephen Tyler Chisholm of Sydney Mines.

Metro file

A fight over a woman that ended in the death of one man has now resulted in another being sentenced to eight years in a federal prison.

Cody Alexander Russell, 22, of North Sydney, was initially charged with second-degree murder in connection with the Sept. 30, 2015, stabbing death of 25-year-old Stephen Tyler Chisholm of Sydney Mines. He pleaded guilty to the included offence of manslaughter.

The eight-year sentence imposed Wednesday, minus 11 months for remand credit, was a joint recommendation from Crown prosecutors Shane Russell and Gerald MacDonald and defence lawyer David Iannetti.

The recommendation was accepted by Supreme Court Justice Frank Edwards who said he was doing so with concerns.

Edwards said he was troubled that by the age of 21, Russell had already served four provincial jail sentences and one federal sentence for robbery, and at the time he stabbed Chisholm, he was on parole from the robbery offence.

“Your record and this conviction represent a propensity to violence. I am not confident that is going to change,” said Edwards, who also ordered Russell submit a DNA sample to the national registry and prohibited him from possessing firearms for life.

He said an ominous sign is Russell’s aggressive behaviour while in jail and that he appears to be in denial when it comes to a problem with alcohol.

“If you are not moved by the expressions of grief you heard here today, then there is nothing that I or anyone else can say that will make a difference,” said the judge, in reference to victim impact statements filed by members of Chisholm’s family.

“You deprived a young man of his life, a mother of her son and children of their father,” said Edwards, adding he hoped Russell fully realized the impact of his crime and makes a serious effort to turn his life around.

Edwards also expressed concern Wednesday that the agreed statement of facts – outlining the elements of the crime – made no mention whether Russell was acting in self-defence.

After considerable discussion between the judge and the lawyers, it was agreed to amend the statement to include Russell’s acknowledgment that he was not acting in self-defence.

Another amendment noted that the pocketknife found on Chisholm at the time of his death was not the knife used in the fatal attack.

Victim impact statements from Chisholm’s mother and half-sister spoke about how they now avoid most people because they don’t want to talk about what happened.

They also addressed the sadness, the loss and hurt they continue to feel in losing a brother and a son.

In reading the statement of facts, prosecutor Shane Russell said at the time of the offence, Chisholm was in a relationship with a woman with whom he shared two children. He was also a father to a third child from a previous relationship.

“There was evidence that Mr. Russell had an interest in starting a relationship with Kelsey Laffin and this was the source of the conflict between him and Mr. Chisholm,” said Shane Russell.

Shortly after midnight on Sept. 30, 2015, Cape Breton Regional Police were called to Clifford Street in North Sydney where they found Chisholm on the street and not breathing. He was pronounced dead shortly before 1 a.m.

An autopsy concluded he died as a result of a stab wound to his chest that cut into the right side of his heart. He also had stab wounds to his back, left side of his face and the right side of his head.

Prior to the arrival of police, Russell fled the scene and showed up at a nearby apartment bleeding and having difficulty retaining consciousness.

He was later treated and medical reports indicated he suffered a broken nose and multiple non-lethal stab wounds to his ear, cheek, abdomen and shoulder.

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