A five-week-long first-degree murder trial that was scheduled to begin in Saskatoon on Monday has been delayed until September.
Greg Fertuck is accused of killing his estranged wife, Sheree.
She was last seen on Dec. 7, 2015, leaving her family’s farmhouse east of Kenaston, Sask.
The mother of three drove to a nearby gravel pit, where her semi-truck was found the next day by her mother, Juliann Sorotski.
Her body has never been found.
Fertuck was arrested on June 24, 2019, outside of Saskatoon and charged with first-degree murder and offering an indignity to a body in Sheree’s disappearance.
On Friday, the judge said the difficulty in proceeding with the trial is a spike in COVID-19 variant cases and the complexity of the case.
“It is a first-degree murder trial of some complexity, including evidence of an undercover police operation,” Justice Richard Danyliuk said in a fiat issued Friday.
“It is anticipated that over the next five weeks numerous witnesses, perhaps a dozen or more, would have to attend personally from Regina to testify.”
Regina is currently the hotspot in the province for COVID-19 cases, and travel in and out of the city is currently not recommended by the Saskatchewan government.
Danyliuk said there are significant health risks in allowing witnesses to travel to Saskatoon to testify.
“This court takes the risks created by COVID very seriously. To ignore them would be foolhardy,” Danyliuk said, adding that testifying by video is not an option for some witnesses.
“There are key Crown witnesses for whom personal attendance is required to ensure a fair trial. That requirement, coupled with the current risks of travel in and out of Regina, results in proceeding with this trial as scheduled impossible.”
The trial by judge alone will now commence on Sept. 7.