Edmonton

Accused in fatal shooting of Métis hunters set to testify in his own defence

Anthony Bilodeau, 33 and his father Roger Bilodeau, 58, are on trial for the March 2020 second-degree murders of Jacob Sansom and his uncle Maurice Cardinal.  The Crown has now closed its case. The jury has been told that Anthony Bilodeau will take the stand in his own defence on Wednesday.

Anthony Bilodeau expected to take the stand Wednesday

A freeze frame from a surveillance video shown to the jury taken the night Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal were shot to death. (CNRL/Court exhibit)

An accused murderer is expected to take the stand in his own defence in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench. 

Anthony Bilodeau, 33, and his father Roger Bilodeau, 58, are on trial for second-degree murder in the March 2020 killings of Métis hunters Jacob Sansom, 39, and Maurice Cardinal, 57. Cardinal was Sansom's uncle. 

The Crown has now closed its case.

The jury has been told that Anthony Bilodeau will take the stand in his own defence on Wednesday.

During the first week of the two-week trial, the jury heard that Sansom and Cardinal had spent the day moose hunting, then socializing with friends.

Two of Roger Bilodeau's younger children testified they were worried and suspicious when a blue pickup truck turned into their driveway that night, located just outside the village of Glendon, about 215 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

Roger Bilodeau and his then-16-year-old son Joseph decided to chase the vehicle. While driving at speeds that reached 152 km/h, Roger called his son Anthony and asked him to bring a gun. 

Soon after arriving at the scene where the other two vehicles were stopped, Anthony Bilodeau shot and killed Sansom and Cardinal. 

In his opening statement to the jury, Anthony Bilodeau's lawyer said that his client's life turned upside down in the span of five minutes on March 27, 2020. 

The defence lawyer said that after his client put his eight-year-old daughter to bed, he was sitting on the couch talking to his wife when his father called at 9:47 p.m.

"He noticed his father's breathing during the call was heavy," Beresh said. "He responded to that call with only one intent. That was to make sure there was no trouble."

The jury has been told that Anthony Bilodeau stayed on the call while he rushed to meet up with his father and younger brother. 

"When he arrived at the scene, to his horror, he could see a man who appeared to be strangling or fighting with his father who was still partially in the truck," Beresh said. 

Jake Sansom (left) and Maurice Cardinal were hunting near Siebert Lake when they were shot to death in March 2020. They took this photo on the day they were killed. (Submitted by Mike Sansom)

"When he got out of the truck, one of the first things [Anthony Bilodeau] did was to shout to the men to stop the fighting."

Beresh said he expects his client to testify that one of the men charged at him, while yelling to the other man to get a gun. 

The shootings

Beresh told the jury that his client was left with no choice and that he acted to protect himself, his father and his brother. 

The entire incident was captured on a surveillance video that has been played for the jury.

Jacob Sansom died almost instantly from a single gunshot wound to his chest. 

Beresh said that he expects Anthony Bilodeau will testify that Maurice Cardinal pointed a gun at his client and said, "You killed him. And I'm going to kill you." 

Cardinal was shot three times. 

RCMP interview

Four days after Anthony Bilodeau shot and killed the two men, he told an RCMP officer he had nothing to do with their deaths. 

An RCMP officer interviewed Anthony on March 31, 2020. Sgt. Christian Reister asked him if he had any idea what happened the night of the shootings. 

"There was nothing out of the ordinary. We didn't hear anything," Anthony Bilodeau said. "It was kind of a normal night for us."

Anthony Bilodeau told the Mountie he would be willing to take a polygraph and provide a DNA sample. 

When the officer asked him directly if he shot the two men, Anthony Bilodeau replied, "No," without hesitation. 

"Why should I believe you?" Reister asked. 

Anthony Bilodeau laughed in response and answered, "I don't know." 

Hours later, Roger Bilodeau told RCMP what happened that night. 

COVID-19

On Monday morning, Justice Eric Macklin informed the lawyers that two of the 14 jurors had tested positive for COVID-19, while a third juror was also very sick and could no longer come to court. 

The remaining jurors all tested negative on Monday morning, but the jury officer tested positive. 

The jury is now down to 11 members. If the number falls below 10, a mistrial would be declared. 

At the start of his opening address, Beresh told the jury, "Please stay healthy. We need you."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston

Court and crime reporter

Janice Johnston is an investigative journalist with CBC Edmonton who has covered Alberta courts and crime for more than three decades. She won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award in 2016 for her coverage of the trial of a 13-year-old Alberta boy who was acquitted of killing his abusive father. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca.

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