Defence, Crown deliver closing arguments in trial for father, son accused of killing Métis hunters

An Edmonton jury will Tuesday begin deliberating the fate of a father and son on trial for murder in the fatal shooting of two Métis hunters in rural Alberta.

Anthony and Roger Bilodeau are each charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the March 2020 deaths of Jacob Sansom and his uncle Maurice Cardinal. 

The pair were gunned down and died at a remote intersection outside the village of Glendon, 215 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

Defence lawyers and the Crown prosecution delivered their closing arguments Monday after several weeks in Court of Queen’s Bench.

Anthony Bilodeau’s lawyer Brian Beresh argued that his client acted out of self-defence while Roger Bilodeau’s counsel Shawn Gerstel maintains that he did not intend for the night’s fatal outcome and only wanted to speak with Sansom and Cardinal.

Jake Sansom and Maurice Cardinal were hunting near Siebert Lake when they were shot to death in March 2020. They took this photo on the day they were killed. (Submitted by Mike Sansom)

Court has previously heard that Sansom and Cardinal had spent March 27, 2020 moose hunting, then socializing with friends.

Roger Bilodeau and his teenage son chased Sansom and Cardinal down seven kilometres of rural road, reaching speeds of 152 km/h, after spotting the pair’s truck in their driveway and thinking it could be thieves.

During the pursuit, Bilodeau called another son, Anthony Bilodeau, and told him to bring a gun.

Soon after arriving at the scene where the other two vehicles were stopped, Anthony Bilodeau shot and killed Sansom and Cardinal. 

Defence argument

Brian Beresh, representing Anthony Bilodeau, underlined that it was up to the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his client had not acted out of self-defence.

“My suggestion at the outset is there are lots of pieces to the prosecution’s puzzle that just don’t fit,” he told the jury.

Beresh highlighted the state of Bilodeau at the time, suffering from sleep deprivation and unprepared for what was about to happen. He said Bilodeau had thought the confrontation would fizzle out.

He also characterized Sansom and Cardinal as the aggressors, reiterating that they both were found to have blood alcohol content beyond the legal limit. Beresh has said Sansom smashed a window on the elder Bilodeau’s truck and then tried to pull Roger Bilodeau from the truck.

“If there’s any doubt about that aggression, all one has to do is look at the torn shirt,” Beresh said, holding up the shirt for the courtroom.

When Anthony Bilodeau arrived, Beresh said he racked the gun and “tried to calm the waters”  but was met with aggression. He fatally shot first Sansom then Cardinal, who the defence holds was attempting to load a gun.

RCMP found the gun in the back seat of the truck. There was no clip in the weapon.

‘A gun to a fistfight’

Crown prosecutor Jeff Rudiak used his closing argument to push back against the narrative of the confrontation, questioning the level of violence inflicted by Sansom.

He said by the time Anthony Bilodeau arrived the situation was already defusing. Rudiak said Bilodeau’s response was neither proportional nor reasonable.

“This is bringing a gun to a fistfight — that’s all this is.”

Rudiak also disputed blood alcohol content as a factor.

“So what? They were drunk. Yeah, they were drunk. They were rowdy. Sure they were rowdy. They just caught a moose. But the rowdiness [at the friend’s residence] never turned to any violence. They were being loud so they asked to leave. So guess what? What did they do? They left. Drunk or not.

“So the business about being 2.9 times or 1.7 times, Crown would submit to you that’s neither here nor there.”

The Crown said the killings were a case of the Bilodeaus taking the law into their own hands and Sansom and Cardinal had done nothing wrong. 

“It’s a case of tragic results because two innocent men, Jake and Maurice, had absolutely no business dying that night,” Rudiak said.

“None.”

Eleven jurors will begin to deliberate on a verdict at 9 a.m. Tuesday. 

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