Man who murdered Dartmouth cab driver denied 2-month prison pass

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A former Dartmouth, N.S., man who has spent his entire adult life in prison for murdering a taxi driver has been denied permission to leave the facility for 60 days without an escort.

Garmen Davison Smith, 32, had applied to the Parole Board of Canada for the temporary release. But the board determined in a hearing on Oct. 22 that Smith is still too high a risk to be allowed out for extended periods.

Smith attacked Kenneth James Purcell, 62, on a Dartmouth street on Christmas morning 2005. Purcell was stabbed multiple times and died later in hospital. The medical examiner found that any one of 14 of the wounds could have been fatal.

Purcell was a cab driver and the attack was said to be a dispute over his fare. But the court also heard that Smith had been talking about wanting to stab or shoot someone, and he had claimed that Purcell said something to provoke him. The claim was later recanted.

Smith was just 17 at the time of the offence, but the nature of the crime and his prior history of violence got him an adult sentence, which meant his name could be reported.

Smith's prior criminal history included a conviction for aggravated assault for stabbing another cab driver.

"At some point thereafter," the parole board wrote in its recent decision, "you admit to stating that you enjoyed listening to the sound of the knife entering and exiting the person's body."

The board added: "You have assaulted a girlfriend and you have threatened to kill your parents while you were armed. The pervasive and at times instrumental nature of your violent offences is most disconcerting."

Smith had requested the two-month release from prison to aid in his personal development. In refusing to release him, the board noted that Smith frequently seems to be in a hurry to move his case ahead faster and further than prison staff feel is advisable.

"As a lifer, that is understandable, but the nature of your criminal history begs the need for caution," the board wrote. "Emotional stability is critical, and it must be demonstrated with consistency across different settings and situations."

Smith had requested an in-person hearing but the board denied that because of COVID-19. The board also noted that the pandemic had disrupted some of the programming Smith had been participating in to prepare him for his eventual release from prison.

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