Farm shooting case heads to preliminary inquiry

By Angela Brown
March 31, 2017 - 12:00pm Updated: March 31, 2017 - 12:36pm

The details of a controversial case related to the death of Colten Boushie will be examined during a preliminary hearing at North Battleford Provincial Court starting next week. 

Gerald Stanley, 55, is facing charges of second-degree murder related to the August 9, 2016, incident on Stanley’s farmyard, near Biggar. Boushie, a 22-year-old Red Pheasant First Nation man, was killed in the incident. 

Based on earlier reports of the allegations related to the incident, Stanley had been accused of shooting and killing Boushie on August 9, 2016, on the Stanley’s farm property. According to the RCMP, Boushie was in a vehicle that was driven onto the site when a confrontation erupted.

According to a CBC report, Boushie was said to have been in the passenger seat, with four other people in the vehicle. His family had said the group was trying to get help to fix a flat tire at the time.

Family counsel concerned over investigation

Boushie's family retained Chris Murphy as its legal counsel. Murphy said he will play no role in the judicial process, other than to act as a representative for the family. He said he hopes to see a fair trial, should the incident proceed, for everyone involved, but he was concerned with the way the case was handled by the RCMP from the start.

He questioned why the initial police report appeared to focus on the incident as a property theft investigation, allegedly committed by Indigenous people in a vehicle on Stanley’s farm.

“The original press release didn’t even mention Gerald Stanley had been charged with shooting Mr. Boushie,” Murphy said.

Murphy had also been concerned that the vehicle from the incident — a grey Ford Escape SUV — had not been secured by police as evidence, an issue that has been in the news before.

“[But my] main concern is that my client’s son died obviously, and there is going to be a trial regarding the circumstances surrounding his death. The main concern is my client’s family’s lives, essentially, have been altered forever,” Murphy said. 

Preliminary inquiry expected to last days

During the preliminary hearing, which starts at 9:30 a.m. Monday, the judge will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial. If there is enough evidence, the trial would then likely be set for Court of Queen’s Bench.

According to North Battleford Provincial Court staff, the preliminary inquiry may last anywhere from one to five days. The hearing will likely be covered by a ban on publication, which will preclude media from reporting on its details.

During the hearing, the court is expected to also hear the agreed statement of facts relating to the August 9, 2016 incident. Stanley is also facing two separate charges related to improper storage of firearms on that date.

Stanley previously pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and was granted bail shortly after the incident. At that hearing, dozens of people protested outside the courtroom in North Battleford.

Stanley’s defence lawyer, Scott Spencer, said he wouldn’t discuss the case while it is before the courts.

“Neither Mr. Stanley, his family, or our office will be granting any interviews until the criminal process is complete,” Spencer wrote in an e-mail to battlefordsNOW.

According to a CBC report, a statement released last August by Spencer on behalf of Stanley’s family asked for the public to reserve judgment until the criminal process is complete, saying: “The circumstances of the incident are not as simple as some media reports have portrayed.”

Representing the Crown in the preliminary hearing is prosecutor Chris Browne. 

“I think that everybody across Saskatchewan and everybody across Canada frankly has an interest in making sure that the truth comes out, whatever that truth is,” Murphy said. 

None of the allegations in the case have not been proven in court.

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Editor's Note: As the case is before the courts, commenting is closed.

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