Saskatchewan homicide suspect arrested in Baker Lake gets 8-year sentence
Corey Clarke pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the May 2021 death of Natasha Ross
A Saskatchewan man arrested in Baker Lake in 2021, following a Canada-wide warrant, was sentenced to eight years in prison in the death of woman in Prince Albert, Sask., last week.
Corey Clarke, 34, was sentenced Nov. 17 at Prince Albert Provincial Court for causing the death of 29-year-old Natasha Ross in May 2021, after having pleaded guilty to manslaughter in her death.
According to the agreed statement of facts read in court by Crown prosecutor Andreanne Dube, Clarke and Ross were both from La Ronge, Sask., had known each other for 10 years, and for a number of months had a sexual relationship.
On the afternoon of May 23, 2021, Ross had been dropped off at a West Hill residence. Throughout the day and night, she and Clarke drank alcohol and smoked marijuana and were overheard by others in the house, giggling and discussing travelling together.
While it’s not clear exactly what happened to cause Ross’s death, Dube explained the two had been in bed together, when Clarke got up and went upstairs to get more alcohol. Prior to leaving, he recalled Ross making sounds consistent with what he described as “snoring.”
Upon returning hours later, he found Ross not breathing and called police. However, by the time officers arrived, representatives from Parkland Ambulance met them at the door and confirmed Ross had been dead for quite some time. Clarke was also in the house and was observed throwing up.
“I can’t believe it,” he was overheard saying, according to Dube.
Multiple people were in the house at the time and told police there were no signs of any fighting and explained Ross had been OK the night prior. The autopsy later determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma from multiple hits to the head and body, and in conjunction with Ross’s blood alcohol level, may have caused asphyxia.
When Judge Steven Schiefner made a point of asking what exactly Clarke did to cause Ross’s death, defence lawyer Brent Little explained his client had no memory of hitting Ross but took responsibility he might have.
Following the incident, a Canada-wide warrant was issued for Clarke and on July 14, police were notified someone matching Clarke’s description was possibly working at a mining exploration camp in Nunavut, approximately 200 miles outside of Baker Lake. When police arrived the following day, and spoke to the on-site manager, they determined that person was Clarke. Two days later Clarke was boarding a plane back to Saskatchewan.
On the morning of July 20, 2021, Clarke appeared before a judge in Prince Albert and was remanded to Aug. 13.
Clarke was originally charged with second-degree murder, but entered a guilty plea to manslaughter. Explaining why the Crown took the plea to manslaughter, Dube said the Crown’s case was problematic in that had the case gone to trial as scheduled, the Crown would have only been able to present pieces of the puzzle, leaving the judge to determine if there was, in fact, intent to kill.
Among the Gladue factors laid out by Brent Little was Clarke’s time spent in foster care, bouncing around between as many as 10 homes, and being forced to sleep outside.
As a young boy, Clarke had also been subjected to physical abuse from family and had started drinking alcohol at the age of 10 as means to cope with the trauma he was exposed to in his own home.
Despite all the trauma, Clarke acquired his Grade 12 diploma and found work as a labourer and driller’s helper.
“Corey’s no dummy,” Little said.
At the time of Clarke’s arrest, he was also on a release order, related to a prior sexual assault charge from La Ronge. That matter was resolved on Nov. 4, 2021, and Clarke received a three-year sentence. With credit for time spent in custody, he has 10.5 months remaining before starting the sentence for the manslaughter conviction.