WARNING: This story contains graphic details and disturbing content. Discretion is advised.
Alberta’s Court of Appeal heard arguments Thursday that a former Ontario truck driver should be tried for a third time in the 2011 death of an Indigenous woman.
Bradley Barton, 55, was sentenced to 12 and a half years for manslaughter in the death of Cindy Gladue, a Métis and Cree woman who bled to death in a bathtub at the Yellowhead Inn in Edmonton.
Peter Sankoff, one of Barton’s lawyers, said the exclusion of some evidence and the question of consent should warrant a new trial.
Sankoff said Barton was unlawfully detained for an exceptionally long period of time.
“You try spending six and a half hours in police custody,” Sankoff told reporters outside the courthouse. “That is not a pleasant time no matter how many coffees they bring you. You’re not allowed to leave. That’s the problem.”
During the hearing, Sankoff referred to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“Everyone has rights,” he said. “To deny someone their rights just because someone died is unjust.”
Crown prosecutor Sarah Clive argued that officers had a duty to be thorough and accurate in their investigation.
“It was reasonably necessary to do so given the gravity of homicide.”
Gladue, 36, was a sex worker Barton had hired for two nights while he was in Edmonton.
Previous trials heard that the truck driver from Mississauga, Ont., performed a sexual act on Gladue that severely injured her internally. He testified the sex was consensual.
Gladue also had four times the legal driving limit of alcohol in her system at the time of her death.
“We are dealing with vulnerable persons and a power imbalance,” argued prosecutor Christine Rideout, adding that Gladue had too much alcohol in her system to consciously consent to the acts that resulted in her death.
A jury found Barton not guilty in 2015 of first-degree murder. That decision sparked rallies and calls for justice for Indigenous women across the country.
There was also outrage because Gladue’s preserved vaginal tissue was presented in court during the trial. She was also repeatedly referred to as a “native” and a “prostitute.”
The Crown appealed the verdict. The Alberta Court ordered a new trial and the Supreme Court of Canada later agreed.
After the manslaughter conviction at the second trial in 2021, the Crown filed a sentence appeal calling the prison term “demonstrably unfit.” It had recommended Barton be sentenced to between 18 and 20 years.
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Longtime family friend and supporter Julie Kay said after the hearing Thursday that it has been devastating for the family to have Gladue’s death brought up in court more than a decade later.
She said the memory of the mother of four has been dragged through the mud throughout the court process.
“(Cindy) was a woman that protected other people, who stood for kindness and justice,” said Kay.
“To have her face so much dehumanization and so much injustice on an ongoing basis, it’s really a testament to where we’re at as a country and how we’re treating Indigenous women in this country.”
Lawyers are to provide written submissions in April. The Appeal Court did not give a date for a decision.