Two men accused of helping James Roszko kill four Mounties in northern Alberta in 2005 will face trial on charges of first-degree murder, a provincial court judge ruled Friday.


Dennis Cheeseman, seen here after being let out on bail in May, will stand trial on four charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of four Mounties near Mayerthorpe, Alta., a provincial court judge ruled Friday. ((CBC))

The decision came at the end of a four-week preliminary hearing that began May 12.

Dennis Cheeseman, 23, and his brother-in-law Shawn Hennessey, 28, were arrested last July and charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of constables Brock Myrol, Peter Schiemann, Anthony Gordon and Leo Johnston at a farm near Mayerthorpe, Alta.

The Mounties were shot by Roszko, who then killed himself.


Shawn Hennessey, Cheeseman's co-accused, seen here leaving the Edmonton Remand Centre after being granted bail in April. ((CBC))

Cheeseman and Hennessey are accused of aiding Roszko even though police said neither suspect pulled the trigger or was even present when the officers were killed.

Both men are free on bail. Hennessey was released April 14 after his family and friends agreed to put up more than $500,000 in cash and sureties. Cheeseman was granted bail the week before the preliminary hearing began, for which family members posted $255,000 in guarantees.

All the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing is covered by a publication ban and can't be reported.

Family and friends of the pair expressed disappointment at the ruling.

"This was not what we were hoping for," said Criss Hennessey, who spoke for the family. 

"But at least now the whole story gets to come out, and the boys will get to tell their side and prove their innocence." .

Crown prosecutor David Labrenz said he was not surprised at the judge's decision.

"The Crown wouldn't have proceeded with the charges unless they believed that there was sufficient evidence to commit the accused to stand trial and to proceed with the charges," he said.

Documentary raises questions about the investigation

A CBC documentary aired in February raised questions about whether the investigation into the Mayerthorpe police killings, including the arrests of the two men, is aimed at distracting attention from allegations of negligence within the force.

Bad Day at Barrhead, a documentary by The Fifth Estate, examines the years following the shooting deaths.

People who know Hennessey and Cheeseman were stunned by their arrests, said The Fifth Estate's Linden MacIntyre. Dozens of people, including two former RCMP officers, wrote character references for the two.