Alberta man sentenced to 10 years for manslaughter in shooting deaths of Métis hunters

One of the two men convicted in the fatal shooting of two Métis hunters in rural Alberta more than two years ago has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal were gunned down in March 2020

Roger Bilodeau, 58, was handed a 10-year sentence for manslaughter in the deaths of Jake Sansom and Maurice Cardinal. (Jim Stokes)

One of two men convicted in the fatal shooting of two Métis hunters in rural Alberta more than two years ago has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

Roger Bilodeau, 58, was sentenced Friday for two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal.

Bilodeau will receive about 4½ years credit for time already served. 

His son Anthony, 33, will be sentenced in November for second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Anthony and Roger Bilodeau were found guilty in May in the deaths of Sansom and Cardinal, who were shot and killed on a rural Alberta road after a brief pursuit. 

Families of Sansom and Cardinal told Court of Queen's Bench Friday the horror of finding out the two men were shot to death.

In a victim impact statement delivered to a crowded Edmonton courtroom, Ruby Smith recounted viewing the body of her son, Sansom, in the morgue five days after he was gunned down. Two days later, she did the same with Cardinal, her brother. 

She said she's haunted by images and flashbacks and plagued by questions. 

"Who would leave them dead on the road as if they were some filthy species?" Smith told court.

"Is there the chance they could have been saved? Why did they make the cold-hearted choice to murder them both?"

Sansom's widow, Sarah Sansom, sobbed as she listened to her family members share their pain. 

She was the last person to deliver her victim impact statement. 

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

She described the toll the deaths have taken on her three children. She said her two daughters always used to smile and laugh. Now she can barely get one of them to leave the house. 

When Sarah goes out for any reason, she said her son calls her every 15 minutes to make sure everything is OK.

"It's caused a complete explosion of our lives and family in a way we can never recover," she said. 

Jacob Sansom's sister, Gina Sansom, also spoke about the deaths of the two men as she directed her comments to the convicted killers.

"You are thieves of our happiness and joy," she said. "You were the only thieves present that night and in the courtroom today … You stole so much in just a few moments."

The trial heard that on March 27, 2020, when Roger Bilodeau saw truck lights in his yard on a rural property outside of the village of Glendon in northern Alberta, he and his 16-year-old son jumped into his truck to give chase. He told court he thought the occupants of the trucks could be thieves. 

The father of nine called his son Anthony during the pursuit and told him to bring a gun. 

Seconds after he arrived on the scene, Anthony shot Sansom in the chest. Then he shot Cardinal three times in the back.

Sarah and Jacob Sansom with their three children. (Court exhibit)

The Bilodeaus left the two men's bodies on the road. 

'He did not have to do any of this'

Crown prosecutor Jordan Kerr asked the judge to impose a 15-year sentence, describing the father and son's actions as vigilante justice. 

"It wasn't impulsive," Kerr said. "He did not have to do any of this."

Defence lawyer Shawn Gerstel argued the evidence did not support a theory of vigilante justice. 

"If he could turn back the clock he would," Gerstel told the court. "It was an unfortunate chain of events that unfolded and he'll have to live with it for the rest of his life."

The defence suggested a 6½-year sentence. 

Before he was sentenced, Roger Bilodeau addressed the court, reading from a written statement. 

"This got out of hand in minutes and I had no time to react," Bilodeau said. He admitted to using poor judgment that night.

"I had no intention of hurting anyone and I'm sincerely sorry for my actions and the hardship I caused," Bilodeau said as he choked back tears.

When delivering the sentence, Justice Eric Macklin said "two innocent men were killed. Roger Bilodeau attempted to take the law into his own hands."

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)

Outside court, Sansom's widow said she felt vindicated by the judge's words. 

"The judge said what we all knew," she said. "That those boys were innocent.

"They were chased down and they were murdered for nothing."


Janice Johnston

Court and crime reporter

Janice Johnston was an investigative journalist with CBC Edmonton who 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.