A 54-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of a young aboriginal man on a west-central Saskatchewan farm, and a judge has reserved a bail decision in the case.

A lawyer for Gerald Stanley entered the not guilty plea in North Battleford provincial court Thursday morning during the first of two court appearance for Stanley. The second appearance, a bail hearing, took place in the afternoon at Court of Queen’s Bench in Battleford.

Stanley is charged in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie.

A judge reserved his decision on Stanley’s bail request, but could rule on the application as early as Friday. All evidence presented at the hearing is subject to a publication ban.

Stanley’s relatives, who on Thursday issued their first statement since the Aug. 9 shooting, expressed condolences to the Boushie family but asked the public to reserve judgement until the facts of the case are established.

"While the circumstances of the incident are not as simple as some media reports have portrayed, the Stanley family will reserve comment until completion of the criminal process," the statement read.

"Although the rampant speculation and misinformation is frustrating, it is not the place for, or reasonable to expect, the Stanley family to correct the public record."

Boushie was shot Aug. 9 after a car he was in drove onto a rural property between North Battleford and Biggar.

A cousin, who was in the car along with several others, said the group was headed home to the nearby Red Pheasant First Nation when they got a flat tire and needed help. He said a man on the farm smashed their window and fired shots as they tried to run away.

Boushie’s brother, William, said outside the North Battleford courthouse Thursday morning the killing “took the light from my eyes.”

He was one of numerous people gathered outside the court for Stanley’s appearance. Many were there to support the Boushie family, and several held signs bearing pictures of the slain young man.

“Justice for Colten,” several signs read. “Stop the racism,” another stated.

William said he believed racism played a role in the fatal shooting.

"He (Colten) went to have a good time at the lake. He promised me he was going to come home. Instead he comes home in a casket. Racism plays a part in this," he said.

"I hope I can find forgiveness in my heart in the long run but, right now, I'm grieving. I'm hurt.... I'll never get him back."

Several property owners in the Biggar area say crime has been an issue recently, and many say a deep divide exists between those living on rural properties in the region and those living on First Nations.

One man, who didn't want to be identified, was on hand outside the North Battleford court to support Stanley. He said he doesn't know the farmer, but came to back him.

"There are so many stories — there's his side, their side — there's two sides to a story. And then there is the truth," he said, as he leaned against a pickup truck in a parking lot across the street from the courthouse.

"Nobody has heard his side. Not once through this whole incident have you ever heard, from the press, from you people, innocent until proven guilty. Not once, and that's Canadian law."

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said last week a police news release — which stated people in the car had been taken into custody as part of a theft investigation — was biased, and the group called for an RCMP review of communication policies and writing guidelines.

Superintendent Rob Cameron in Regina responded that officers handled the investigation fairly and competently.

The racial tensions highlighted by the shooting even prompted statements from Premier Brad Wall, calling for a stop to hateful online comments, and the National Farmers Union, expressing condolences to Boushie’s family and community.

“As farmers, we condemn the rampant racist remarks that have circulated since the death of Colten Boushie, including comments made on the ‘Saskatchewan Farmers’ Facebook group,” the union wrote Wednesday.

Gatherings in support of Boushie also took place outside provincial court houses in Saskatoon and Regina.

--- CTV Saskatoon’s Angelina Irinici was in the Battlefords covering Stanley’s court appearances as well as the rally. Her live coverage is compiled below: