From day one: A timeline of Gerald Stanley’s trial
On Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, a floor person for the jury at the trial of Gerald Stanley, a farmer charged with second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Cree man Colten Boushie, stood up inside Battleford’s Court of Queen’s Bench and read the verdict.
Not guilty, the juror said. Stanley was acquitted.
What happened during the two-week trial?
- About 200 people show up in Battleford for jury duty.
- Seven women and five men — plus two alternates — are selected to serve.
- None are visibly Indigenous, prompting comments of frustration from Boushie’s family.
- “It was really difficult to sit there today and watch every single visible Indigenous person be challenged by the defence,” his cousin, Jade Tootoosis, tells media.
- Chief Justice Martel Popescul, who presided over the trial, starts the day by notifying court the two alternates selected the previous day will be filling for two jurors he says he excused.
- Prosecutor Bill Burge then opens the Crown’s case.
- He outlines details of Boushie’s death, stating the 22-year-old was shot once in an SUV on the Stanley farm Aug. 9, 2016.
- The bullet entered behind his left ear and exited through the side of his neck.
- Three spent casings found at the scene match a Tokarev handgun from Stanley’s home, Burge says. Eleven guns — two of which were pellet guns — were found on the property.
- Boushie’s DNA was on the Tokarev, Burge says. Gunshot residue was on Stanley’s hands.
- Burge promises testimony from Stanley’s son and calls two RCMP officers.
- The first officer, Cpl. Terry Heroux, shows photos from the scene and outlines the investigative process.
- Court hears the SUV, with its door open, was left at the scene for two days. Forty-four millimetres of rain came down in the area within that time and much of Boushie’s blood in the SUV washed away.
- The second officer, a blood-stain-pattern analyst, is Sgt. Jennifer Barnes.
- Stanley’s defence lawyer, Scott Spencer, questions the police investigation, stating the defence was not able to see the SUV before the vehicle was towed from the scene.
- Const. Andrew Park tells court he believes a rifle stock found at a farm northeast of the Stanley property matches a stock missing from a rifle found at the scene.
- He says he received a report, while on the Stanley farm, of an attempted break-in to a truck on the other property.
- Stanley’s son, Sheldon, then takes the stand.
- Sheldon testifies hearing someone start a quad in their yard, after an SUV drove onto the farm.
- He says he believes someone from the SUV was trying to steal from the property.
- He hit the SUV’s windshield with a hammer as the vehicle tried to drive away, and then went to the house to grab truck keys, he says.
- He tells court he heard three shots before seeing his dad, standing close to the SUV, holding a gun and a clip.
- “I don’t know what happened. It just went off. I just wanted to scare them,” Stanley said, according to his son.
- A rifle, missing a stock, fell out of the SUV when two women who were in the vehicle pull Boushie’s body out, Sheldon says.
- He testifies he then called 911.
- Eric Meechance, who was with Boushie and three others the day of the shooting, tells court the group had spent the day target shooting, drinking Crown Royal and swimming in a river in the area.
- The five were on a nearby farm before they drove onto the Stanley property, he testifies.
- He says one of the five tried to break into a red truck on the other farm using a rifle, but is adamant the group did not enter the Stanley yard to steal.
- He takes issue with Stanley’s lawyer describing the group as armed.
- “I wouldn’t say armed,” Meechance says. “That gun wasn’t whipped out anytime on that farm.”
- The 23-year-old says he and another person flee after the SUV hits a parked vehicle.
- He heard two gunshots while running away, he says.
- Cassidy Cross, who was also with Boushie, admits in court to lying in previous statements.
- He testifies he broke a rifle trying to break into a truck on a different farm the same day, but says he drove the SUV onto the Stanley property only to seek help with a flat tire.
- He recalls someone hitting the SUV’s windshield with a hammer and the vehicle striking another vehicle on the Stanley farm, before he and Meechance fled.
- “We didn't think about it. We just ran. I was scared out of my mind," Cross says.
- Belinda Jackson, who was in the SUV’s backseat when Boushie was killed, also admits to telling RCMP a different story but testifies she saw Stanley shoot Boushie in the head.
- She tells court she heard someone say, “Go get a gun,” about a minute before the fatal shooting.
- She also says she saw a “younger man” on the property go into the house prior to the shooting, while another man walked into a garage and grabbed a handgun.
- The man who grabbed the handgun, who she later identified as Stanley, shot Boushie, she testifies.
- The other man was holding what she believed was a shotgun when he exited the home, she says.
- Forensic firearms expert Greg Williams begins his testimony, stating he found “an unusual bulge” in a cartridge found on the SUV’s dash.
- The cartridge is one of the three spent casings matched to Stanley’s Tokarev handgun.
- He’s ultimately unsure what created the bulge, but notes a hang fire — a delay between when the trigger is pulled and when the bullet fires — alone wouldn’t cause the abnormal casing.
- Hang fires are rare, he says.
- The Tokarev handgun fired normally when tested, he also states.
- Williams’ testimony continues.
- He tells court he tested 36 cartridges from 80 seized from the Stanley farm. One of the tested cartridges failed to fire, he says.
- The Crown’s case closes.
- John Ervin, a gun and ammunition expert, is called to the stand as the defence’s first witness.
- He also testifies the Tokarev fired fine when tested, but he blames the bulged cartridge on a misaligned gun.
- He says he couldn’t determine if the handgun hang fired or not.
- Spencer, Stanley’s defence lawyer, delivers his opening statement.
- He calls the shooting a “freak accident” and blames a hang fire.
- His first witness of the day, Kim Worthington, the executive director of Saskatoon Youth for Christ, tells court he saw an SUV that was in bad shape the day of the shooting.
- The next witness, Wayne Popowich, who contacted Spencer after seeing media coverage of the trial, tells court he’s experienced hang fires with delays between seven and 12 seconds.
- He also testifies he’s experienced a hang fire that created a bulge, but says during cross-examination, that specific incident happened 40 years ago.
- Another witness, Nathan Voinorosky, testifies he’s experienced a seven-second hang fire while target shooting.
- Glennis Fouhy, from the farm the Boushie group was on before they drove to the Stanley property, also testifies.
- Stanley is then called to the stand in his own defence. He’s the last witness to testify in the trial.
- He outlines seeing the SUV drive onto the property and hearing someone start an ATV.
- He describes his son hitting the windshield with a hammer and himself kicking the taillight.
- He tells court he thought the SUV was leaving until it hit his wife’s parked vehicle.
- He says he grabs the Tokarev handgun from his shop with the intent to scare the group away.
- He recalls two men running from the scene after he fired what he says were warning shots straight into the air, but says he was in “pure terror” because he thought his wife had been hit by the SUV.
- He tells court he removed the gun’s magazine after firing the warning shots. The gun, in his right hand, fired when he reached into the SUV to turn off the vehicle with his left hand, he says.
- “It just went off,” court hears.
- He claims his finger wasn’t on the trigger.
- Crown prosecutor Bill Burge then cross-examines Stanley, asking how many guns were in the home and about Stanley’s knowledge of gun handling.
- “Did you learn not to point a gun at somebody?” Burge asks.
- “Did you learn that if you pull a trigger that doesn’t go off you better treat this gun as something dangerous that might go off?”
- He also asks Stanley if he normally knows how many shells he loads into a clip.
- Stanley replies he does on most days but now knows he was mistaken when he thought he loaded two bullets the day Boushie was shot.
- The defence’s case closes.
- Both lawyers share their closing arguments.
- Defence lawyer Scott Spencer begins, reiterating his argument the fatal shot was the result of a hang fire.
- He describes the situation Stanley was in as a “nightmare” and argues no evidence exists showing Stanley pulled the trigger.
- “It’s a tragedy, but not criminal,” he tells court. "Some people aren't going to be happy. You have to do what is right based on the evidence you heard in this courtroom. You must acquit."
- Crown prosecutor Bill Burge then delivers his closing statement.
- Burge disputes the gun hang fired, pointing to the evidence presented by both gun experts, and disputes Stanley’s claim he thought the gun was empty.
- “He's told you something that is demonstrably not true because there was another round in that clip,” Burge says.
- He also argues Stanley handled the Tokarev carelessly, and points to parts of Stanley’s and Sheldon’s testimonies he says didn’t match.
- Stanley said he ran to the SUV, while Sheldon testified he saw his father walk by the SUV, Burge says.
- Jurors begin deliberations, after instructions from the judge.
- The jury is given three options, according to Popescul: that Stanley is guilty of second-degree murder, that Stanley is guilty of manslaughter or that Stanley be acquitted.
- Jurors re-hear the full testimonies of Stanley and his son, during the morning and afternoon, before continuing deliberations.
- A verdict is delivered at 7:30 p.m.
- The courtroom is filled with members of Boushie’s family, the public and the media anxiously awaiting the reading.
- Stanley is found not guilty.
- Cries, shouts, gasps and swears are heard in court.
- Some people yell, “Murderer!” Others appear to be in disbelief.
- Stanley is rushed out a side door by RCMP officers.
- Boushie’s family members, their lawyer and several others comment outside court.
- The family’s lawyer, Chris Murphy, asks people to imagine being “in the skin” of Boushie’s mother, brothers and cousin following the death and during the investigative and legal processes.
- Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice-Chief Kimberly Jonathan points to residential schools and the ’60s Scoop in her comments on the verdict.
- “We felt unsafe then, and we’re still unsafe. Someone can say it’s an accident to shoot any one of us, and they’re found not guilty,” she says.
- Boushie’s cousin, Tootoosis, promises the family will fight for an appeal.
- “We will not stop our pursuit for justice,” she says.
--- Video by Ed Sedgwick. Writing by Kevin Menz, with files from Angelina Irinici and The Canadian Press