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Sask. Mountie convicted of killing his lover sentenced to 11 years

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A former Saskatchewan Mountie who shot and killed his lover has been handed an 11-year sentence.

In January, Bernie Herman, 55, was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Braden Herman. The two were not related.

In May, 2021, 26-year-old Braden's naked body was found in a park on the outskirts of Prince Albert. He had a fatal gunshot wound to the chest.

Justice Gary Meschishnick delivered his sentencing decision at Prince Albert Court of King’s Bench on Tuesday. He said while he believed Herman had the intention to murder when he shot Braden Herman, he also believed he feared bodily harm in the moment.

“In one sense this case is as near to murder as it can get, but in another sense it was near to self-defense,” he said.

During the trial witnesses testified the two met in 2018 and had a father-son like relationship that later turned sexual and was tumultuous at times.

Herman told court that he was sometimes blackmailed and forced to have sex with Braden.

Herman said he never intended to kill Braden when they drove to the secluded area where his body was later found — but he knew Braden wanted sex.

“You ignore your wife, but you never ignore him,” Bernie Herman's wife messaged. (Source: Facebook / Rochelle Rockley Ryley)

He said they parked and got out of his truck, and Braden took off all of his clothes.

“He pushed me against the door and started kissing me and then he put his hands down my pants,” Herman testified.

He said Braden was upset because he didn’t have an erection.

Herman told court Braden said, “You better not be cheating on me because you know what I’m going to do to you.”

He said he doesn’t remember drawing or shooting his service weapon.

“All of a sudden, boom, my gun went off,” he said.

Herman said his ears were ringing.

“I seen him falling on his back and then I panicked and took off,” he testified.

Later that night, Herman's wife and daughter knocked on the door of Herman's partner RCMP Const. Richard Wittal.

Wittal testified Herman's wife showed him a text message from Herman that said, "I shot Braden. It's over and done with."

Meschishnick said some factors in his decision are that except for this case, Bernie Herman’s “moral compass” has been “consistently and firmly” pointed in the right direction.

He said despite being physically and sexually abused at day school, Herman managed to break the cycle of generational trauma.

The judge noted Herman had no prior criminal record, is deemed to be a low risk to society, and had support from his friends and family throughout the trial.

He also said Herman “was in a trap of his own making.”

Meschishnick said even though Herman was being physically abused and blackmailed, he never ended the relationship. Instead, he “left his moral compass in his pocket and got lost.”

He noted the sentence for manslaughter typically ranges from four to 12 years. Meschishnick says he chose the “upper range” because this crime is the product of “self-interest” and because he committed the crime in uniform with an RCMP service gun.

The judge said with credit for time served in remand, Herman will spend about 10 years in in custody.

Meschishnick said it will be up to Correctional Services of Canada how Herman will spend that time, whether it’s in prison or a healing lodge, and whether he is put with the “general population”. 

Herman was originally charged with first-degree murder, but was convicted on a charge of manslaughter.

The Crown is filing to appeal the conviction.

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