Staff Sgt. Charles Lerat said on at least six occasions, Greg Fertuck, now 67, made unprompted comments asking how he could get Sheree Fertuck in the back of his Dodge Ram pickup. One phrase he used was, “How could I ever load a 250-pound body into the back of my truck?”
“It was a red flag for me because those were comments that were made unsolicited,” Lerat testified Thursday in Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench.
Lerat said the statements were significant because at no time during the interview did the RCMP say anything about Sheree, 51, being put in the back of his truck or that she was dead.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Morris Bodnar, Lerat acknowledged telling Greg Fertuck he suspected him of killing his wife. The other interviewer, Sgt. Chad Clark, said the officers implied Sheree was in the back of the truck.
Bodnar also mentioned two people who told police they saw Sheree Fertuck’s semi-truck at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2015 – the date of her disappearance. Bodnar suggested it established his client’s alibi.
“Eyewitness testimony is good, but nothing is 100 per cent,” Lerat said. “It could very well be a case of mistaken identity of that truck.”
At one point during cross-examination, Bodnar read a definition of “tunnel vision” from a John Grisham novel. He asked Lerat if the RCMP had tunnel vision, and suggested police were “pulling out all the stops” to get a statement implicating Greg Fertuck.
“I would call it good police work to make sure … no opportunity is missed,” Lerat responded.
He said the main purpose of the interview was to find the truth and to find Sheree, rather than produce a confession. It’s why officers had one of Greg and Sheree’s daughters sit in for part of the interview, Lerat said.
Greg Fertuck was arrested and interrogated for six hours on Oct. 25, 2017. He arrived at the Saskatoon RCMP detachment just after 10:30 a.m. and spent roughly eight hours in a cell before beginning the interview.
Following a Mr. Big sting, RCMP charged Greg Fertuck in June 2019 with first-degree murder and offering an indignity to a body. He’s pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The first 13 days of Crown witness testimony have happened during a voir dire, or a trial within a trial meant to determine if evidence is admissible. Justice Richard Danyliuk is presiding over the judge-alone trial and will determine what can be admitted.
Clark testified there were grounds to detain and interview the man in 2017, including his history of domestic violence against Sheree, the woman’s fears of him and the accused’s statements and behaviours.
Clark said evidence like a cellphone ping off a tower in the Kenaston, Sask., area and forensic evidence of Sheree’s blood on Greg Fertuck’s tailgate also supported the arrest. He stated the accused also had financial motivations to commit murder because his assets were tied up in divorce proceedings with Sheree.
Greg Fertuck was released in October 2017 without being charged.