Jury selected for Gerald Stanley second-degree murder trial
A 12-person jury has been selected for the trial of Gerald Stanley.
The seven women and five men — plus a woman and a man selected as alternates — were chosen Monday at Battleford’s Alex Dillabough Centre after the 56-year-old Stanley was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Colten Boushie.
Boushie, a 22-year-old from the Red Pheasant First Nation, was shot and killed on a farm near Biggar, Sask., in August 2016. The death, which has received national attention, has sparked racial tensions across the province.
Boushie’s cousin, who was on hand for jury selection Monday, told media she was frustrated with the selection process. The jury doesn’t consist of anyone who is visibly Indigenous.
“It was really difficult to sit there today and watch every single visible Indigenous person be challenged by the defence,” Jade Tootoosis said. “It’s not surprising, but extremely frustrating, and it’s something that we feared has come true. I’m unsure how to feel about how the proceedings are going to go from here on out, but we’ll continue to be at the courthouse every day.”
Each lawyer is given 14 opportunities to challenge a potential juror. The juror locks eyes with the accused and if a lawyer states, “challenge,” the potential juror is excused from the jury.
Stanley’s lawyer, Scott Spencer, declined comment Monday, but issued a statement Friday, ahead of the trial. He noted in the statement Stanley will not be speaking with media and said the trail is “not a referendum on racism.”
“Unfortunately, racial tensions existed in Saskatchewan, and across Canada, before the Boushie tragedy and they continue today,” part of the statement reads. “It will take a lot of time and effort to mitigate those tensions. It is dangerous to deny them, but it is perhaps equally dangerous to allege racism where it does not exist. Either way, race has nothing to do with the proper outcome of Gerry’s trial.”
Spencer also said he has concerns about some media coverage of the case but believes the jury will take a balanced approach, allowing Stanley to receive a fair trial.
The trial is scheduled to run until Feb. 15, with the jury expected to start hearing evidence Tuesday.
Premier Brad Wall, who shortly after Boushie’s death, in response to some social media comments, called on residents to “rise above intolerance,” again addressed the comments last week.
“Leadership at the federal and provincial level can continue to, and must continue to, encourage people to avoid that sort of thing,” Wall said. “This is going to be a difficult time for the province but I believe we’re up to the test.”
Seven-hundred-and-fifty summons were sent to potential jurors in Battleford, North Battleford and the surrounding community. About 225 of those people were expected at jury selection Monday morning, but about 20 people did not show up.
Angelina Irinici is in Battleford following the court proceedings: