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Maskwacis man who killed his mother loses conviction appeal

Ashton Saddleback beat his mother to death in November 2020
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A Maskwacis man has lost his appeal of his second-degree murder conviction for beating his mother to death in 2020. (File photo by BLACK PRESS news services)

A Maskwacis man who drunkenly beat his mother to death in 2020 has lost an appeal of his second-degree murder conviction.

Ashton Lloyd Bush Saddleback was convicted in March 2022 by Wetaskiwin Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Steven Mandziuk in a judge-alone trial. He later was sentenced to the mandatory life sentence but will be allowed to apply for parole after the minimum 10-year period.

Saddleback lived with his mother in a home in Maskwacis and had spent the afternoon and evening of Nov. 7, 2020, drinking before she arrived home intoxicated.

Shortly after she got home an argument broke out and Saddleback, then 35, admitted to punching his mother repeatedly before stomping on her head as she lay in a mudroom. An autopsy determined his 51-year-old mother died of head and neck injuries.

Saddleback appealed his conviction on the grounds the verdict was unreasonable, that the judge wrongly rejected evidence Saddleback was suffering from a blackout at the time of the assault, and that the judge wrongly used after-the-fact evidence.

A three-judge appeal panel rejected all three grounds of appeal following a Jan. 19 hearing in Edmonton.

Saddleback argued that the verdict was unreasonable because “the evidence was insufficient to support a finding that he knew that his assault of his mother was likely to cause death.”

The judge had determined the assault was a “brutal and sustained attack” and “Saddleback’s intoxication did not prevent him from appreciating that the attack would probably result in his mother’s death.”

Appeal panel judges said that Saddleback’s description of his attack, testimony from witnesses that the incident lasted 15 to 30 minutes, and medical and blood spatter evidence supported the judge’s finding the attack was brutal and sustained.

During his trial, the court heard Saddleback drank beer, wine, and 26-ounce and 13-ounce bottles of hard liquor beginning in the afternoon of Nov. 7, 2020 and continuing into the evening. He argued that his “level of consumption is ‘inconsistent’ with the finding that he was not so intoxicated that he did not foresee the likely consequences of his attack.”

The panel agreed with the judge’s assessment that Saddleback was a “seasoned drinker.” Further, his actions after his mother’s death, which including calling 911, using hot knives immediately after the incident to inhale marijuana, telling one of the 12-year-olds to stay away following the attack, his attempt to scrub the scene and putting bloody clothes in the washer indicated his intoxication “did not stop him from foreseeing death as the likely consequence of the attack.”

Also rejected was Saddleback’s argument that the judge did not handle the blackout evidence properly.

“We disagree,” the appeal decision says. “The trial judge rejected Mr. Saddleback’s ‘black out’ evidence because it was consistent with the rest of the evidence, particularly his after-the-fact conduct, which established that he had a functional and operating mind.”

Also accepted by the panel was the judge’s determination that Saddleback’s post-attack actions display a “relatively high level of cognitive functioning and purposeful conduct.”

The appeal concluded “the conviction for second-degree murder stands. The appeal is dismissed.”