Accused killer held in Stettler hospital for threatening suicide before murder

Savage escaped from hospital hours before allegedly killing a Stettler man

A man charged with second-degree murder of a Stettler man was being held at the Stettler hospital for self-harm and threatening suicide before escaping and allegedly killing a man, federal prosecutor Gordon Hatch told the court May 10.

John Roland Savage, 51, made a second court appearance in Stettler provincial court via CCTV from Edmonton Remand Centre May 10. Savage is charged with second-degree murder and seven counts of failing to comply with release conditions, theft under $5,000 and possession of a controlled substance.

On April 6 before 2 a.m. Stettler RCMP received a report of a suicidal male with a machete. The individual was Savage. He had less than a gram of marijuana on him when arrested.

“Police put him under arrest under the mental health act,” said Hatch. “A machete was found concealed under his shirt.”

In April, Stettler RCMP confirmed that Savage was arrested in Stettler the morning of April 6 and taken to the Stettler hospital where he was placed under watch by hospital security. Savage, however, fled the hospital sometime that afternoon – hours before he allegedly killed James Hulkovich, 70. Hulkovich lived about half a block from the Stettler hospital.

On April 6 RCMP found Hulkovich deceased in his Stettler home and made a plea to the public to help locate a white 2008 Ford F-150 truck that belonged to the victim.

On April 7 at about 8 p.m., police located the truck on Hwy 13 near Wetaskiwin and took two adult males and females into custody. Savage was injured during the arrest and taken to an Edmonton hospital. Police released the other male and two females without charges. While in the hospital, RCMP Major Crimes Unit (MCU) charged Savage with second-degree murder on April 10.

An autopsy by the Calgary Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on April 10 determined Hulkovich’s death was a homicide.

Defence lawyer Jason Snider – who is a former seasoned Red Deer crown prosecutor – asked the court on May 10 for an adjournment on the second-degree murder charge to give him time to set a date for a preliminary hearing.

“It (preliminary inquiry) will likely be multiple days,” said Snider.

Savage pleaded guilty to failing to comply with release conditions and theft.

According to the crown, Savage was under conditions since Dec. 17, 2017, that required him to live where approved and to remain in his home from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day. On Feb. 24 Stettler police did a curfew check at 10:16 p.m. and Savage wasn’t at home.

Snider told the court that Savage admits he got home late that day after his curfew.

On April 1, 2018, Savage was charged with stealing from Walmart. Crown told the court that Savage self-scanned $66 worth of items at the checkout but left the store without paying. He was later identified through video surveillance.

Snider told the court that Savage had difficulty paying for the items and was under pressure to finish.

“He was on medication and made a bad decision,” said Snider. “Fines are appropriate for these offences. Savage was going through a rough time and ithappened when he was under prescription drugs. “

The judge fined Savage $100 for breaching conditions and $200 for theft.

Savage reappears in court June 14 to set a date for a preliminary hearing.

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