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Alberta man faces lengthy sentence in sex assault that left woman in coma

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A southern Alberta man is to be sentenced today for a vicious sexual assault on a woman who spent weeks in a coma and was forced to learn how to walk and talk again.

Denzel Dre Colton Bird, 21, pleaded guilty last fall to striking the then-25-year-old woman from behind with a metal pipe, dragging her into an alley and sexually assaulting her in September 2016.

She was walking to work when she was attacked.

The blows caused multiple skull fractures and broken facial bones.

Judge Jerry LeGrandeur must sentence Bird for aggravated sexual assault and an additional charge of break and enter.

The Crown is requesting 20 years in prison, while the defence has argued that Bird should receive an additional six years on top of the time he’s already spent in custody.

At a sentencing hearing in April, the woman wrote in her victim impact statement that there have been times that she wished her attacker had “finished her off.”

“I am not the same person I was,” she said. “At times I even wished Bird had finished me off, but then I remember how strong I am and I don’t want to give him that power over me.

“I’m more alive than ever. He hasn’t taken away my will to live. I am a survivor.”

The woman said she struggles with her emotions, has trouble with her balance and contracted a sexually transmitted disease from Bird.

Court heard that a passerby discovered the woman partially naked and stuffed into a garbage can. She was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries and spent weeks in a medically induced coma.

At the end of the hearing, Bird tearfully apologized to the family.

“I don’t know if the right word is sorry or not, but I do pray each and every night for forgiveness … to have that girl heal. I know I ripped her soul out mentally, physically, psychologically.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press