Murder trial begins for father, son accused of fatally shooting two Métis hunters

Both men pleaded not guilty to each charge during the first day of the trial, expected to last 10 days

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Video surveillance shows Anthony Bilodeau fatally shot Jacob Sansom within 26 seconds of arriving at a northern Alberta intersection, a Crown prosecutor told a jury during opening statements Monday.

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Bilodeau and his father Roger Bilodeau have each been charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Métis hunters Sansom and Maurice (Morris) Cardinal.

They are accused of fatally shooting Sansom and his uncle, Cardinal, on a rural road near Glendon, Alta. in March 2020.

Both men pleaded not guilty to each charge during the first day of the trial, expected to last 10 days.

Crown prosecutor Jordan Kerr said Sansom and Cardinal were driving on Range Road 484 after they had spent a day hunting for moose and the evening with friends, drinking and skinning the animal. They were heading home when they slowed down or possibly stopped outside the rural property of Roger Bilodeau, who observed the truck with his 16-year-old son Joseph Bilodeau.

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Kerr said the Bilodeaus were “deeply suspicious” of the truck, after seeing a number of “suspicious vehicles” near their property earlier in the day.

The jury will hear a statement Roger Bilodeau gave to police about the pursuit, when he had called Anthony Bilodeau who lived a short distance away. During this call, Kerr said Roger Bilodeau told Anthony Bilodeau “these sons of bitches are coming to steal or do something” and asked Anthony Bilodeau to bring his gun from him.

Anthony Bilodeau then got into his own truck to join the pursuit.

Sansom and Roger Bilodeau eventually reached a T-intersection at Township Road 622 and Range Road 484 and stopped. A Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. gas pumping station was located at the intersection, equipped with surveillance cameras.

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What occurs next between the men is disputed by the Crown and defence. The Crown asserts Sansom was unarmed and three minutes after Sansom and Roger Bilodeau arrived at the intersection, Anthony Bilodeau arrives. Both Sansom and Cardinal had left their truck at this point.

“Then 26 seconds after Anthony Bilodeau’s arrival on the scene, you’ll see Jacob Sansom fall to the ground in front of him in the middle of the road,” Kerr said.

Kerr said Sansom was shot in the chest. He said Cardinal is seen moving towards Sansom, appearing to hold a firearm. An altercation occurs between Anthony Bilodeau and Cardinal, he moves back to Sansom’s truck and then is shot three times.

Kerr said there is “no self-defense here” and Roger Bilodeau is also criminally liable for the deaths. Roger Bilodeau initiated a “dangerous and persistent high-speed chase” and had “clearly anticipated having a confrontation” when asking Anthony Bilodeau to join the pursuit and bring a gun.

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Shawn Gerstel, a defense lawyer representing Roger Bilodeau, said this case is not about how the deceased died or who pulled the trigger, but there is “much more to this story” including what happened in the minutes and hours prior to the deaths of Sansom and Cardinal.

Gerstel said Joseph Bilodeau had witnessed two blue trucks pull up to the property earlier in the day while he and his mother were home alone, and Sansom’s truck looked similar so he and Roger Bilodeau decided to follow them and see what they were up to.

Gerstel said at the intersection, Sansom assaults Roger Bilodeau inside his truck, with Joseph Bilodeau pleading “please don’t kill my dad.”

“There will be other evidence that shows the level of violence that was inflicted on Roger and Joseph that evening,” Gerstel said.

He said the jury will hear testimony from Joseph Bilodeau that he believed Anthony Bilodeau was acting in self-defence towards himself and his family.

Following opening statements, the Crown played the surveillance video for the jury and the first two witnesses were called to testify.

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