A Nanaimo man accused of murdering an inmate at a medium-security prison in Alberta has opted to plead guilty.
Ashley Baird, 38, originally from Nanaimo, was weeks away from release when he was charged with second-degree murder following the death of fellow Drumheller Institution inmate Jeffrey Ryan.
Drumheller RCMP responded to a call to the institution at approximately 8:40 p.m. on January 26. Ryan, say police, was the victim of an allegedly unprovoked and serious assault. He sustained serious injuries and was transported to hospital, where he later died. After the incident, Baird was charged with second-degree murder and was pleading not guilty.
But during a brief appearance in provincial court in Drumheller earlier this month via telephone, Baird indicated he did not have legal counsel and would like to change his plea to guilty and begin the sentencing process.
His case was put over to allow duty counsel time to speak with Mr. Baird and was called back later in the day.
Duty counsel John Goetz spoke with Mr. Baird regarding the case and indicated he needs to obtain legal counsel. The case was adjourned until Friday, April 22 to allow time for counsel to be appointed and obtain the proper disclosures.
In 2017, Baird was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to six charges stemming from an armed home invasion in Nanaimo.
Armed with a sawed-off shotgun, he broke into a home on Haliburton Street and zap-strapped five people in April 2017. After threatening to kill them, Baird then demanded a safe belonging to the murder victim of a brazen shooting in the lobby of Nanaimo’s Howard Johnson Hotel that same month.
Baird has since been transferred to the Saskatchewan Federal Penitentiary.
With files from Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/The Drumheller Mail/The Canadian Press