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Alberta Court of Appeal hears appeal on conviction of Anthony Bilodeau in Metis hunters’ killing

The Alberta Court of Appeal was the center stage for heated legal debates as arguments were presented on March 6th regarding the conviction of Anthony Bilodeau one of the men implicated in the tragic killing of two Metis hunters in 2020. Bilodeau’s legal team contended that errors made by the trial judge, particularly in jury instructions and admission of witness testimony, could have significantly influenced the jury’s decision.

Anthony Bilodeau, 34, was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole eligibility for 13 years for the second-degree murder of Maurice Cardinal, 57, and eight years for the manslaughter of Jacob Sansom, 39. The sentences were to be served concurrently.

The incident, on March 27, 2020, near Glendon, approximately 30 km west of Bonnyville, involved a pursuit initiated by Roger Bilodeau, Anthony’s father, who observed headlights on his rural property and suspected theft. Roger and his 16-year-old son gave chase in their truck, with Roger urging Anthony to join and bring a firearm. The pursuit culminated in a confrontation where Anthony, upon arrival at an intersection, fatally shot Sansom and Cardinal within moments of each other.

Both Bilodeau’s were tried jointly, with Roger Bilodeau being convicted of two counts of manslaughter and receiving a 10-year prison sentence.

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During the trial, the judge instructed jurors to consider each defendant’s testimony solely in relation to their individual sentence, a decision that Anthony’s legal representatives argues caused confusion among the jurors and had a “chilling effect” on their judgment.

Anthony’s lawyers contested the trial judge’s dismissal of certain witness testimonies, including one individual who intended to testify about his belief in an uptick in local crime, a perception allegedly shared by Anthony. Lawyers argued that such testimony would have provided critical context to understand Anthony’s actions on the fateful night.

However, during the appeal hearing, Justice Alice Woolley scrutinized the relevance of such testimonies, remarking that shared beliefs between witnesses do not inherently validate their reasonableness. She highlighted the inclusion of RCMP records and crime statistics from the Bonnyville area as part of the trial evidence.

The panel of justice at the Court of Appeal has reserved their decision on Anthony Bilodeau’s appeal, marking a critical juncture in the legal proceedings surrounding this tragic case.

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