No jail time for drug-fuelled robber who seriously injured community leader in Prince George

·3 min read
Once a finalist for Citizen of the Year, Diane Nakamura suffered a permanent brain injury after she was robbed in downtown Prince George in broad daylight.  (Diane Nakamura/Contributed  - image credit)
Once a finalist for Citizen of the Year, Diane Nakamura suffered a permanent brain injury after she was robbed in downtown Prince George in broad daylight. (Diane Nakamura/Contributed - image credit)

A man who pleaded guilty after a drug-fuelled robbery that left a Prince George community leader with a serious brain injury won't serve jail time.

On Friday in Prince George Provincial Court, Marshall Schulze was sentenced to three years probation for mugging Diane Nakamura in broad daylight outside the downtown post office in October 2018.

Schulze has also been ordered to pay $1,500 to the Prince George Brain Injured Group Society.

The robbery left Nakamura, once a finalist for Prince George Citizen of the Year, on permanent disability, ending her 33 year career as a social worker.

Still, Nakamura backed the judge's decision to keep her assailant out of jail.

Robber now 'model citizen'

"Since [Schulze's] been clean and sober, he's just been a model citizen," Nakamura told CBC News after the sentencing. "Sending him to jail would just unravel everything that he's accomplished."

The court heard that since the robbery, Schulze had completed a lengthy drug rehabilitation program, was working full time as a carpentry framer and was committed to sobriety.

"What Marshall Schulze has accomplished is what I would have wanted for all of my clients ... This is pretty much unheard of in terms of success," Nakamura said.

During her working life, Nakamura counselled people living on the street, in jail, and in drug treatment.

She also assisted families of the victims of serial killer Cody Legebokoff, and supported the young victims of former judge David Ramsey, helping secure his conviction for sex crimes.

Betsy Trumpener/CBC
Betsy Trumpener/CBC

Victim 'screamed and screamed for help'

The court heard that Schulze was supposed to be attending court-ordered residential drug treatment near Prince George and was "intoxicated on drugs" when he robbed Nakamura.

Schulze told the court he had a "major addiction problem" after using opiates for pain control after surgery.

Nakamura said he was a "scary looking guy ... visibly high on drugs" during the robbery.

Betsy Trumpener/CBC
Betsy Trumpener/CBC

"He tried to swing me around, he tried to head butt me, and I just screamed and screamed for help," Nakamura told CBC News.

Video footage played for the court showed Schulze running up behind a woman and knocking her to the cement sidewalk.

A passerby and two postal workers picketing outside the post office came to Nakamura's aid, tackling her assailant, and holding Schulze down until RCMP arrived.

Betsy Trumpener/CBC
Betsy Trumpener/CBC

Victim left with 'no spark, no light'

During the sentencing hearing, Nakamura told Schulze that she "didn't deserve to be assaulted and left with a permanent brain injury. Now, I feel dead inside. No spark, no light."

In a written impact statement, Nakamura's husband said Schulze had "destroyed my wife's beautiful nature. Her fun spirit has disappeared."

The robbery conviction in Prince George was not Schulze's first conflict with the law.

Assailant was on probation

In 2013, he was convicted of drug trafficking and the illegal possession of several high-powered stun guns.

In 2018, Vancouver police arrested Schulze after reports a man was hitting people in Pigeon Park in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Schulze tried to grab a police pistol, as well as bite and spit on officers, Crown lawyer Ryan Withel told the sentencing hearing.

As a condition of his release, Schulze was ordered to travel north to Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community and Farm, near Prince George.

Schulze got a ride to Prince George. But he never went to rehab, according to the Crown.

Withel said Schulze was on probation when he robbed Nakamura.

"I'm forgiving you, because it's the only way to move on," Nakamura told Schulze before sentencing.

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