Court sat through lengthy closing arguments Monday from Crown prosecutors and the defence lawyers for a father and son accused of killing two men who had been hunting near Bonnyville, northeast of Edmonton.
“We are close to the end of this journey,” Anthony Bilodeau’s lawyer Brian Beresh started on Day 10 of the second-degree murder trial.
“Through me this morning, he (Anthony) asks nothing more than this: apply the principles that you live by,” Beresh told the jury.
“Apply the standards to his case that you would want in his condition.”
Beresh said his client was not asking for sympathy, privilege or favour. The lawyer has maintained his client was acting in self-defence on March 27, 2020, when he shot and killed Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal on a rural road.
Bilodeau has admitted to pulling the trigger but said he did so out of fear for the lives of his father Roger and younger brother.
That pair had chased Sansom and Cardinal down a rural road at high speeds, believing they were thieves who were planning to steal from the Bilodeau property.
Crown prosecutors have argued that both Sansom and Cardinal were found without weapons on them at the time of their deaths.
The Crown has also pointed out that the Bilodeaus could have turned around at any time during the chase and ended the incident peacefully.
“There are lots of pieces to the prosecution’s puzzle that just don’t fit,” Beresh told the jury.
He has argued Sansom and Cardinal were both intoxicated and aggressive after an evening of drinking.
Beresh then compared his client’s experience to that of a Ukrainian refugee, suggesting refugees come to the country with little preparation of what they are getting into and that they are bound to make mistakes.
He suggested his client was just as unprepared to deal with the scene he came across that March night.
Bilodeau’s lawyer invoked another world event when addressing why his client did not call police at any time.
“Police were called in Uvalde, Texas and it didn’t help,” said Beresh.
Court has heard the RCMP response in the area could take upwards of 20 minutes in 2020.
Beresh told the jury Sansom intended to cause serious injury or death, trying to demonstrate that by holding up the shirt Roger Bilodeau had been wearing that night.
The collar on the shirt had been ripped, with the Bilodeaus claiming Sansom did so while attacking the accused.
“Had Anthony not arrived, Roger and (the teenaged son) Bilodeau would not have survived that night.”
Beresh also argued Cardinal was “the ultimate threat that night.”
He said Cardinal had the ability to stop the situation and that he didn’t, claiming the victim “had a murderous intent.”
The lawyer wrapped up his argument by asking the jury to find Anthony not guilty on both counts of second-degree murder.
Roger’s lawyer Shawn Gerstel then gave his closing statement.
He insisted his client only followed Sansom and Cardinal to ask them why they stopped at the edge of the Bilodeau yard that night.
Anthony Bilodeau testified his father called him and asked him to bring a gun but defence lawyers have said that was just for protection.
“Roger’s actions that night were a mistake but they were not criminal,” said Gerstel.
He put the blame on the victims, saying none of the events would have happened had Sansom and Cardinal not resorted to “extreme violence.”
Gerstel added that Sansom did not have to stop and that he could have turned and driven away even after the Bilodeaus stopped.
Defence lawyers have argued Maurice Carindal pointed a gun at Anthony. It was found in the backseat of Sansom’s Dodge truck, feet from Cardinal’s body. It was unloaded with the clip beneath the bag it was lying on.
Roger’s lawyer said the fact that gun was not loaded or fired was “not that simple.”
He pointed out there were bullets in the truck and that the safety was not on when the gun was found.
Gerstel also argued his client had no intention to harm Sansom and Cardinal, saying Roger would not have brought his 16-year-old son along if he had.
The lawyer pointed out convicting the accused will not bring back the victims and instead asked that the jury find his client not guilty on both counts of second-degree murder.
Crown prosecutor Jeff Rudiak said: “this is a case of taking the law into your own hands.”
He said Sansom and Cardinal did nothing wrong.
It is clear, Rudiak argued, that Anthony shot the victims and that it was those shots that caused the deaths.
He told court Anthony is an experienced shooter who was able to load his gun quickly and shot an unarmed Sansom right in the chest.
“Anthony is the one that escalates this,” Rudiak told the jury.
“You do not have to introduce a gun to a fist fight.”
The Crown also alleged Roger was trying to run over Jacob with his truck, which would be considered a show of force and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Rudiak wrapped by calling the killings “unjustified.”
Both of the accused sat emotionless in the courtroom, each wearing a white button-up shirt and dark blue sweater.
Justice Eric Macklin then gave instructions to the jury including that the jury could only find Roger Bilodeau guilty of an offence the jury also found Anthony guilty of.
The 11 members were then sequestered and will begin deliberating at 9 a.m. Tuesday.