Meth addict sentenced to 20 months for machete attack in central Edmonton

Adam Stepanow, 36, was sentenced to 20 months in custody after pleading guilty to unlawful confinement and aggravated assault in a December 2018 attack with a machete on Raymond Cardinal.

36-year-old pleads guilty to aggravated assault and unlawful confinement

The house at 11019 95 Street where Raymond Cardinal was attacked with a machete in December 2018. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Raymond Cardinal's problems began on a Sunday afternoon in December 2018 when he went to a friend's place to help him move some personal belongings. 

By the time he escaped the next day, his body was covered in cuts and stab wounds. One of his fingers was partially amputated, his lung was lacerated and he had broken ribs and facial bone fractures. 

A man known only by the nickname "Hatchet" saved Cardinal's life by getting him to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. 

Last Friday, Adam Stepanow, 36, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and unlawful confinement. He's been in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre since July 2019.

After a Court of Queen's Bench judge accepted a joint sentencing submission of 20 months, Stepanow was expected to be released over the weekend. 

According to an agreed statement of facts, Cardinal was attacked when he walked into a dark basement at 11019 95th St. in central Edmonton. One of his attackers was Stepanow. He knew the others only by their nicknames. 

Cardinal was struck from behind and lost consciousness. When he came to, Stepanow was cutting his neck, arms and hands with a machete. The ordeal continued throughout the day and into the night until Cardinal saw a chance to escape through an open door. 

That's when another man stabbed Cardinal in the torso. Stepanow also stabbed him once in the chest. 

Justice Robert Graesser was told that Hatchet saw what was happening to Cardinal and didn't want him to die, so he managed to rescue Cardinal and get him to the Royal Alexandra Hospital. 

The motive for the attack was not explained to the court. 

"This type of offence is shocking," prosecutor James Mahon said. "An individual is savagely attacked over several hours. The weapon used is terrifying. The injuries were significant.

"Hatchet saved his life," Mahon added.

Cardinal survived his injuries and testified at Stepanow's preliminary hearing, but Mahon said the victim vanished afterwards and he wasn't sure the Crown would be able to find him to testify at the trial that was scheduled for February 2021. 

Defence lawyer Ace Yaggey suggested Cardinal may have gone into hiding. 

Hope for rehabilitation

At the end of July 2019, police stopped Stepanow while he was riding a bike. He was searched and officers found methamphetamine. He was taken into custody. 

The judge was given a copy of Stepanow's four-page criminal record. It includes a number of property and weapon offences and three previous convictions for assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm. 

Yaggey said Stepanow's parents died 15 years ago, but were both residential school survivors who had drug and alcohol addictions. 

Stepanow was abused as a young child and was placed into foster care where he was further abused. He began using drugs as an adult and became addicted to crack cocaine at age 21. The addiction lasted five years, when he managed to get sober for a year.

At age 27, he began using crystal methamphetamine which continued for eight years.

When he was invited to address the court, Stepanow apologized to his victim for "all the stress this has caused." 

In passing sentence, the judge told him, "You're still a relatively young man. There's hope for you and some rehabilitation potential." 

Graesser encouraged Stepanow to remain sober and to take advantage of any treatment that's made available to him. 

"You may never be free of addictions, but hopefully you'll be free of using," Graesser said. "Once an addict, always an addict. 

"I hope this is your last visit to the courthouse." 

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston