REGINA – Joshua Larose was sentenced to 15 years incarceration for the charge of manslaughter in the death of Matthew Bossenberry, and one year concurrent on each of three related charges to which he pleaded guilty. That was the sentence Justice Martel D. Popescul handed down during the sentencing hearing on Feb. 3. With credit for pre-sentence custody, that amounts to 4,416 days (12.1 years) in a federal institution.
“Sentencing is one of the most delicate stages of the criminal justice process,” said Popescul in his decision. “The credibility of our system in the eyes of the public depends on the fitness of the sentence.”
He also imposed ancillary orders including submission of DNA, firearm prohibition, and no contact with certain people involved in the trial as well as the victim’s family. The victim fine surcharge was waived, as Popescul noted such a fine “…would cause undue hardship…”
Larose appeared in handcuffs and shackles, and members of both families were in attendance. Soft sobs and words of comfort could be heard from the gallery.
Back on Nov. 25, 2022, a 12-person jury found La Rose guilty of manslaughter - a lesser charge than the original one of second-degree murder. It was a tough decision for the jury, who deliberated for nine hours on that fateful Friday.
“It was not contested that Mr. Larose caused the death of Mr. Bossenberry,” Popescul noted, adding that the jury was asked to consider if the actions were in self-defence.
After the verdict, Popescul ordered a Gladue report, which contains information on unique circumstances of Indigenous people accused of an offence. Sentencing was reserved until the report could be considered.
About a month prior to the events of Aug. 24, 2020, Larose and his partner were ghosting (intercepting drug users on their way to a known drug house) in the backyard of a drug dealer. When that dealer discovered the pair, he chased them away, but Larose was upset about how his partner was treated. Shortly after the incident, Larose went to jail on an unrelated matter.
“While in jail he - by his own admission - began to stew about what had happened,” said Popescul in his decision, adding that Larose “became particularly angry when he recalled how his wife had been insulted and threatened.”
On Aug. 24, Larose pleaded guilty to several offences, was sentenced to one day (deemed served by his presence in court), and placed on probation for nine months. One of the conditions of that probation order was to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
“He went home, armed himself with bear spray and a knife and then promptly went to a residence … with vengeance on his mind,” Popescul noted in his decision. Larose attended the dealer’s house, telling the person who answered the door that he wished to offer the dealer an apology. There were five people in the house at the time - more than Larose anticipated - as he unleashed the bear spray upon the living room.
That was when Bossenberry confronted Larose and the fight ensued. During the fight, Bossenberry utilized a 2x4 piece of wood to hit Larose several times. Although Larose went to the dealer’s residence to cause harm, evidence does not establish that he planned to murder either man. Larose did not know Bossenberry was in the house until he got there.
“Larose testified that he was getting the worst of the altercation and that he started to fear for his safety,” noted Popescul in the decision. That was when Larose happened upon the knife, stabbing Bossenberry. Larose left the house, and sold the knife in exchange for fentanyl, but it was later recovered by police.
Bossenberry suffered a deep stab wound, and died quickly on the front steps of the house.
The Crown wanted to see Larose sentenced to 16 years, while Defence council argued a time period of half that length. Both sides agreed that Larose should be sentenced to one year concurrent on each of the related charges.
“This is a very tragic event where two lives have been drastically altered,” Popescul said during the Feb. 3 sentencing.
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