Woman convicted of Mount Forest stabbing ordered to stay out of community

Amber Rundstadtler sentenced to time already served behind bars for assaults, including stabbing of local woman

Caution: This story contains graphic details some readers may find upsetting.

GUELPH – April of 2023 was a month gone “horribly bad” for Amber Runstadtler and those around her, Justice Faith Finnestad said in Guelph Court on Dec. 29.

Runstadtler held a butcher knife over her head and threatened to kill a woman at the front of a Mount Forest residence, according to an agreed statement of facts and court records recently received by the Advertiser.

Later that day, Runstadtler entered another woman’s home and began a heated argument, believing the woman was in a relationship with her partner.

Armed with a kitchen knife, she threatened to slit the woman’s throat, but stabbed the woman once in her thigh.

Neighbours called 911 after the woman managed to flee.

Runstadtler spent two weeks in jail following the incidents before she was released.

Later that month, Runstadtler was escorted from the Mount Forest Foodland grocery store by its former owners after harassing staff and customers.

She threatened to slice a man’s throat there.

The incidents led to nine charges for alleged assaults, threats and probation offences, and Runstadtler remained behind bars starting in May as the charges churned through the courts.

On Dec. 29, Runstadtler pleaded guilty to threatening death and bodily harm, causing bodily harm, threatening to use a weapon, and two charges of breaching probation orders not to have any weapons.

Assistant Crown attorney Michelle Dwyer noted Runstadtler has a criminal record, and suggested she spend another four to six months in jail, in addition to the 257 days she had already been behind bars, mostly at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton.

Toronto defence lawyer Joanne Prince suggested Runstadtler be sentenced to time already served, with each real day credited as 1.5 days served, for a total of nearly 13 months.

Justice Finnestad took time to learn about the “relatively young” 32-year-old woman who stood before her, handcuffs removed at the defence’s request.

Runstadtler said she began using drugs at 13 years old, never finished highschool, and has only held down a job for a couple weeks.

“Sometimes I would just walk around at night until morning,” she said, recalling a recent two-year stretch of homelessness.

“It’s a little scary how much violence there was here during [April],” the judge said, adding the stabbing was “horrifying” and “particularly frightening and egregious.”

Was Runstadtler open to counselling? the judge questioned.

What about living with her grandmother in Guelph/Eramosa? And how about following strict rules?

Runstadtler said she was willing to do it all, and told Finnestad the time in jail removed “the cloud over my head.”

An appropriate sentence, the judge said, would be 14 months, but she decided to “saw it off” at the 13 months Runstadtler already served.

“I don’t think there’s any point in adding the extra 30 days,” Finnestad said of the “slightly lenient sentence,” citing Runstadtler’s remorse, life circumstances, and stabilizing medications.

Finnestad also put Runstadtler on three years of probation.

“That’s a ‘put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is’ term,” the judge said.

Runstadtler was ordered not to have weapons, not to contact anyone involved in her crimes, not to be in Mount Forest, to keep peace, behave well, live with her grandmother, get counselling, and see a doctor or psychiatrist.

“Either you do all this and your life takes a change for the better, or you’re back here on a bunch of breaches and away we go again,” Finnestad said.

“It is entirely in your hands.”

Four remaining charges related to death threats, having a weapon and breaching a probation order were dropped at the Crown’s request.