A years-long murder trial at the Court of King’s Bench in Saskatoon is reopening a portion of the case after defendant Greg Fertuck asked to personally cross-examine witnesses.
Fertuck is on trial for first-degree murder in the disappearance of his ex-partner, Sheree Fertuck, whom he is accused of killing in 2015.
Sheree’s body has never been found.
Fertuck said he wanted to question his ex-partner, Doris Laroque, and ballistics expert Kenneth Chan, who has already been on the stand twice.
Fertuck is defending himself, and said his previous lawyers, Morris Bodnar and Mike Nolin, did not ask the witnesses the questions he wanted them to.
A document from the judge, Justice Richard Danyliuk, giving the green light to the cross-examination went over the facts and analysis that led to the decision.
The judge wrote that it has been 18 months since the trial began and much of the delay was due to Fertuck.
It was noted that a portion of the case was previously reopened after Crown counsel noted that new evidence had been found in March 2022.
Fertuck said he wanted Laroque to testify in person, rather than in the soft room where she had previously testified, but the judge refused to force her personal attendance.
The document said Fertuck believes Laroque was coerced and threatened into a non-contact order against him, and that a statement made to her by Fertuck admitting that he killed Sheree never happened.
It added that Fertuck believes he can either prove or cast doubt that a shell casing found in the gravel pit where Sheree disappeared didn’t come from a gun Fertuck owned if given the opportunity to cross-examine Chan.
“The overarching consideration is trial fairness. Mr. Fertuck must be allowed to meet the case against him. He says the conduct of this trial by prior counsel limited that right, and that such limitations can be dealt with by allowing him to further cross-examine two Crown witnesses. I have decided to afford him the opportunity to do so,” read the document.
The judge noted that Fertuck does not have carte blanche to ask anything he wants, adding that the Crown may object or Danyliuk may intervene.
The Crown attorneys said they were “dismayed” by the timing of the request given they are several years into the trial.
While Fertuck said he only wishes to cross-examine two witnesses, it may lead to a rebuttal by the Crown, dragging out the proceedings even further.
A court heard in January 2022, that Fertuck told undercover police officers he dumped a rifle in the area of Biggar, Sask., after shooting Sheree.
In April 2022, the Crown presented a rifle found in rural Saskatchewan to the court as evidence.
A Ruger 10/22 was found in a wooded area by Highway 14, near Kinley, Sask., about 57 kilometres west of Saskatoon.
Chan connected the rifle to the two shell casings found at a gravel pit in the Kenaston area, where Sheree was last seen.
— with files from Brooke Kruger and Kelly Skjerven