RCMP investigation scrutinized at Stanley trial

By Taylor MacPherson
January 30, 2018 - 6:13pm

After hearing evidence from two RCMP forensic experts Tuesday, the defence called into question several aspects of the RCMP's investigation into the death of Colten Boushie.

Farmer Gerald Stanley, 56, is currently facing a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the 22-year-old's 2016 shooting death. Stanley's high-profile trial by jury began Monday in Battleford.

On cross-examination, defence lawyer Scott Spencer asked Cpl. Terry Heroux why the SUV Boushie was driving at the time of his death was released from RCMP custody immediately after their forensic analysis was completed. The defence had no opportunity to perform independent analysis, he noted. 

"That vehicle had lots of evidence in it," Spencer said. "Why would it not be maintained?"

Heroux said it is standard procedure for evidence to be released after an investigation. 

"Once we're finished processing it, it's always released," he said, adding that swabs were taken to preserve biological evidence.

Spencer noted the bullet that passed through Boushie's head and neck was never located, despite a massive search effort by police armed with metal detectors. Spencer also pointed to the fact that Heroux did not test whether the Ford Escape was capable of driving, a fact the officer referred to as "an oversight."

The SUV, Heroux testified, was left outdoors and uncovered overnight in the rain at Stanley's farm before the RCMP began to process it. Heroux said the SUV was not protected from the elements because he expected the search warrant to arrive within hours, instead of the following morning.

The second Crown witness was Jennifer Barnes, an Alberta-based RCMP blood spatter analyst. Barnes said Boushie's blood was found on the driver's seat of the Ford, and also on the barrel, trigger and magazine of a damaged, loaded .22—calibre rifle found on the ground next to Boushie's body. This, she said, indicates the rifle was in or near the SUV's driver compartment, as was Boushie.

Spencer scrutinized Barnes' testimony in the same manner, asking why she based her work on photographs instead of viewing the evidence directly.

"It's impossible for us to attend all blood scenes ... For each call, we make decisions," she said. "To see the evidence in situ (at the scene) is always preferable."

While numerous .22-calibre rounds and spent casings were located inside the SUV, Spencer also questioned why no ballistic tests were performed to determine if the shells were fired from the rifle.

Throughout the morning's proceedings, Stanley sat stoically, showing almost no emotion or reaction as the witnesses were questioned. Eight names remain on the Crown's list of witnesses, including Stanley's son Sheldon and two additional police officers.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Commenting on this story is closed now that the matter is before court.

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