A defence lawyer in a high-profile Saskatoon murder trial says the prosecution and police paid at least one witness to take the stand during the trial.

Brian Pfefferle says a witness in the trial of Joshua Petrin was paid $2,500 before the trial and may receive another $12,500 when the trial concludes.

The move sets a dangerous precedent for future cases, according to Pfefferle.

“What should happen in the future?” Pfefferle asked. “Should other witnesses say, ‘I should be paid to testify,’ ‘I’m not coming unless I’m paid,’ ‘I want $20,000,’ ‘No, this time I want $50,000’?”

Pfefferle, who is defending Petrin, brought up his concerns at the trial weeks ago and says he plans to bring up the issue again during closing arguments Wednesday.

“To say it causes a slippery slope would be a great understatement,” he said.

Petrin is charged in the Sept. 12, 2012 shooting death of 34-year-old Lorry Ann Santos, a mother who was shot and killed inside her home in Saskatoon’s Westview neighbourhood. Police said she was gunned down by members of an Alberta gang called the White Boy Posse, who targeted the wrong house.

Three Crown witnesses told court Petrin ordered the hit that led to Santos’ death. An alleged former member of the White Boy Posse was the intended target, according to the witnesses.

Pfefferle said he’s never seen a case in which a witness was paid to testify or offered more money at the end of a trial.

He questions if a paid witness’s testimony can be trusted and said he believes other witnesses in the Petrin trial have been paid.

Payment should not be an option, according to Pfefferle. A witness must show up to court if they are subpoenaed.

Spokespersons for both the Saskatoon Police Service and the Ministry of Justice said Tuesday they could not comment until the trial is over.

--- based on a report by CTV Saskatoon’s Jennifer Jellicoe