Mario Bigchild was on a 10-day crystal methamphetamine binge in September 2018 when he stabbed a stranger on an Edmonton LRT platform.
He pleaded guilty in May to aggravated assault, three robberies and disarming a peace officer.
At a sentencing hearing Wednesday in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench, the Crown asked the judge to impose an 11-year prison term.
"Vicious attacks on strangers with weapons cannot be tolerated," said prosecutor Kate Andress, who pointed to the vulnerability of the victims.
Defence lawyer Andrew Phypers said his 24-year old client had hit rock bottom when he went on his 20-hour crime spree.
"He had given up," Phypers said. "He had gone to the city to essentially be self-destructive. It's 20 hours over an otherwise unmarred history of 24 years of his life."
Phypers said Bigchild was high on crystal meth before he committed his first robbery, challenging gang members in downtown Edmonton to shoot him.
"He has experienced a wealth of hardships from assaults in the home, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, low achievement in his education and child welfare involvement," Phypers told the court.
Given Bigchild's youth, circumstances and lack of criminal record, Phypers suggested an appropriate sentence would be four years in prison, less credit for time served, to be followed by a three-year probation order.
"It isn't a soft sentence," Phypers said.
'I'm really sorry'
Justice Peter Michalyshyn asked Bigchild if he had anything to say.
"I know I wasn't in my right mind," Bigchild said by closed-circuit TV from the Edmonton Remand Centre. "I want you to know that I'm really sorry. I just can't believe any of this."
The crime spree began on Sept. 17, 2018, when Bigchild walked into a Husky gas station just before noon, armed with a knife. He leapt over the counter and demanded money while threatening the clerk.
Bigchild ran off with $500. Two hours later, he committed another robbery at an LRT concession kiosk. That netted him $67.75 in cash.
After taking more drugs, Bigchild boarded a bus the next morning headed for the University of Alberta south campus LRT station. He got into a conversation with another passenger then encountered the same young man on the LRT platform.
As the train pulled up, Bigchild attacked the 19-year-old U of A business student with a knife. Theodore Lee was stabbed five times in the chest and upper torso. He was rushed to hospital in critical condition and underwent open-heart surgery. He has since made near-complete physical recovery.
Bigchild fled the LRT station and headed for a nearby gas station. He walked behind the counter and punched the clerk in the face while demanding money and cigarettes. He walked out with $100 and 15 packs of cigarettes.
Moments later, Bigchild tried to convince a woman in a gas station across the street to give him a ride in her Cadillac. When she refused, he got in the passenger seat and demanded that she drive him away. The driver managed to break free and Bigchild stole the vehicle.
Thanks to OnStar, police quickly tracked down the vehicle in west Edmonton. When Sgt. Gary Benoit tried to arrest Bigchild, the two men exchanged punches, according to an agreed statement of facts.
At one point, Bigchild unclipped the officer's holster and tried to grab his gun. Benoit fought back by kicking, elbowing and pepper spraying Bigchild.
Bigchild escaped but was ultimately subdued by a police dog.
Interviewed later by police, Bigchild said he attacked the man on the LRT platform because he thought he was a "predator," according to the agreed statement of facts. He admitted he committed a robbery, stole a woman's car and tried to take the police officer's weapon.
According to a Gladue Report prepared for the court, Bigchild began using marijuana at age nine, then moved onto cocaine, magic mushrooms and alcohol. He tried crystal methamphetamine at age 19 and immediately realized it gave him delusions.
The judge is expected to hand down his sentencing decision on Oct. 8.