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Father, son accused of killing Métis hunters in rural Alberta plead not guilty

Jake (Jacob) Sansom (left) and his uncle Morris (Maurice) Cardinal are shown in a handout photo from the Facebook page "Justice for Jake and Morris." . Courtesy: Justice for Jake and Morris, Facebook

A Crown prosecutor has told a murder trial that an Alberta farmer and his son followed and shot two Métis hunters assuming they were thieves who had earlier driven onto the family’s property.

A lawyer for the farmer says the killings were in self defence.

The jury trial began in Edmonton on Monday for Roger Bilodeau, 58, and his son Anthony Bilodeau, 33, who have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the deaths of Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal.

Sansom, 39, and his 59-year-old uncle were found dead on a rural road near Glendon, northeast of Edmonton, in March 2020.

Prosecutor Jordan Kerr said in his opening statement that Sansom had driven from his home in southern Alberta and dropped his three children off at his mother’s home in Bonnyville. He and his uncle then went moose hunting so they could fill the family’s freezer with meat.

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Kerr said the older Bilodeau saw the hunters’ pickup truck slowly go by his home,and it looked like one that had been on his property that day. While following the hunters in his truck, Bilodeau phoned his son and asked him to follow behind and to bring a gun, said the prosecutor.

Security footage from a nearby gas station shows the Bilodeau men in their trucks following Sansom and Cardinal in their truck, Kerr added.

Roger Bilodeau and the hunters first stopped their trucks on the road.

Anthony Bilodeau arrived soon after. Within 26 seconds, he shot Sansom, then shot Cardinal as the hunter was walking to his truck, said Kerr.

The Bilodeaus then drove away.

A motorist called RCMP after finding Sansom dead in the middle of the road and Cardinal’s body in a ditch.

Autopsies determined that Sansom was shot once in the chest and Cardinal was shot three times in his shoulder, said Kerr.

“These were in no way justified killings,” Kerr said.

“Anthony Bilodeau freely made the decision to arm himself and to join in a pursuit on a public highway, simply because his father had suspected somebody might be trying to steal from him.

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“Roger Bilodeau clearly anticipated having a confrontation at the end of the chase, when he recruited his son Anthony Bilodeau into joining the pursuit and bringing a firearm.”

Defence lawyer Shawn Gerstel said Roger Bilodeau followed the hunters because a similar truck had gone onto his property earlier in the day while his wife was home alone. There were also concerns about property crime in the area.

Gerstel said Anthony Bilodeau shot at the hunters because Sansom had smashed a window of his father’s truck and punched his father multiple times.

“Along with the video, you will see the shirt that Roger wore that evening. The collar of Roger’s shirt is torn half off. Mr. Sansom’s blood was located on three distinct areas of Roger’s shirt,” Gerstel said.

“(Roger Bildoeau) asked for a gun for protection because he didn’t know who he was dealing with.”

Gerstel also said the hunters were drunk, loud and obnoxious. He said a medical examiner is to testify that Sansom had a blood alcohol level that was nearly three times the legal driving limit, and Cardinal’s blood alcohol limit was nearly two times the limit.

James Sansom testified he had never seen his brother miss a target during a hunt, and he was also a talented martial artist who was good at de-escalating situations.

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The trial is to continue Tuesday.

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