Edmonton

Bradley Barton trial closing arguments focus on credibility, consent

The jury has listened to closing arguments from the Crown and defence in the Bradley Barton manslaughter case. On Thursday, they will begin deliberations after getting legal instructions from the judge.

Warning: Graphic and disturbing details

In a court exhibit previously shown, Bradley Barton and Cindy Gladue are captured on surveillance camera leaving Barton's hotel room on the first of two nights they spent together. (Yellowhead Inn/Court exhibit)

After listening to nearly eight hours of legal arguments, the jury in the Bradley Barton manslaughter trial is one day away from beginning to decide his fate. 

Barton is accused of causing a fatal injury to Cindy Gladue while they were having sex in June 2011 in a suite at the Yellowhead Inn in west Edmonton. Barton admitted he caused the injury, but said he had no idea at the time that Gladue was hurt. 

The former long-distance truck driver from Ontario insisted the sex was consensual and that she enjoyed it at the time. Barton also testified that he was shocked when he found her naked body in a bloody bathtub the next morning. 

"His testimony should be rejected," Crown prosecutor Lawrence Van Dyke told the jury during his closing submissions. "It defies logic and common sense in light of all the circumstances." 

Van Dyke pointed to the lies Barton told in the hours and days after he discovered Gladue's body.

"He lied shamelessly whenever he needed to,"  Van Dyke said. "Whenever he thought he had something to gain."

In light of his lying, the Crown argued there was no reason to believe the version of events Barton testified to on the witness stand.

"It is an absurd story from the mouth of a proven liar," Van Dyke said. "His current version is so far-fetched, it cannot give rise to a reasonable doubt." 

'Her death was tragic and painful'

Before he began his closing argument, defence lawyer Dino Bottos acknowledged the pain and suffering Gladue must have endured at the end of her life. 

"Cindy Gladue was a human being," Bottos said. "Nothing I'm going to say is to take away the dignity of her life and the tragedy of her loss … Her death was tragic and painful. It would have been an awful final hour of her life." 

Cindy Gladue in an undated photo posted on the Facebook site, In Loving Memory of Cindy Gladue. (In Loving Memory of Cindy Gladue/Facebook)

Bottos asked the jury to not let the graphic and disturbing nature of the evidence and the photo exhibits poison them against Barton. 

"You can't let your emotions, if you're upset, be weighed against Mr. Barton," Bottos said. "That's all I'm asking." 

Bottos asked the jury to consider the lies Barton told in context by trying to look at it from his point of view. 

"He didn't think he hurt her," Bottos said. "So when he wakes up the next morning and sees blood smeared all over the bathroom wall — can you imagine how terrifying that would be and how confusing that would be if he truly believed he had not hurt her the night before?" 

The defence lawyer suggested Barton lied because he was panic-stricken and worried about losing everything if he admitted to a paid sexual liaison with Gladue. After he was charged in 2011, Barton temporarily separated from his wife, was fired from his trucking job and declared bankruptcy. 

"His worst-case scenario came to pass," Bottos said. "He has no criminal record. He deserves your consideration. Please don't discount him. Don't discount his evidence." 

The issue of consent

An autopsy showed that at the time of her death, Gladue had more than four times the legal limit of alcohol in her bloodstream. The Crown suggested she may have been too drunk to be able to consent.

"If she was so intoxicated that she did not realize she was seriously injured and sitting in her own blood, then you should have no problem that she lacked the capacity to consent," Van Dyke told the jury. 

If the jury decides beyond a reasonable doubt that she was that incapacitated, Barton would be found guilty of sexual assault and therefore guilty of manslaughter, since that was the unlawful act that caused her death. 

Hotel room 139 at the Yellowhead Inn in June 2011 after the body of Cindy Gladue was found in the bathtub. (Edmonton Police Service/Court exhibit)

When Barton was questioned by police hours after reporting he found a body in his bathtub in 2011, he said Gladue was "loaded." But when he testified nine years later, Barton insisted Gladue was able to walk and talk before and after they had sex. Other witnesses also rated her level of intoxication as low.

Bottos pointed out Gladue was able to take off her shoes without help once she got into room 139 and then went into the bathroom to remove all her clothing. It was found there in a pile the next morning by police. 

The other key issue for the jury to consider is whether Gladue agreed to rough sex at the time either with words or actions. 

"Mr. Barton was actually trying to claim that she enjoyed sex that tore an 11-centimetre hole in her vagina," Van Dyke said. "The thought that she was able to sit and chit chat for a few minutes after her vaginal wall was torn is completely implausible." 

The Crown suggested Barton didn't bother to seek consent after he agreed to pay Gladue $60 for sex. 

Barton's lawyer insisted that if he knew Gladue was injured in the middle of the night, he would have called 911 to get medical help. 

The Crown pointed out that even the next morning when Barton said he first discovered Gladue, it still took him 45 minutes to call 911. 

'He could save her or he could silence her'

Both lawyers focused on the blood evidence, and how it could be interpreted. 

Bottos suggested the evidence bolstered Barton's version of events. But Van Dyke pointed to the lack of a blood trail between the bed and the bathroom. 

"He tore her vagina and she started to bleed heavily on top of the bed," Van Dyke said. "He was faced with a choice. He could save her or he could silence her. He chose not to call for medical help because she could tell someone what he had done to her." 

A blood-soaked comforter was found beside the bed in room 139. (Edmonton Police Service/Court Exhibit)

The Crown's theory is that there was no blood trail because Barton wrapped Gladue up in a comforter and carried her into the bathroom and placed her in the tub. 

"He chose to let her die," Van Dyke said. "He simply let her bleed to death." 

Van Dyke also suggested the internet searches Barton performed days before Gladue's death for information about ripped or torn vaginas was a precursor to what happened in his hotel room. 

Bottos called that the "more diabolical or more far-fetched theory". 

"The Crown has this misguided notion that because he typed in those words, he must have wanted to hurt somebody," Bottos said. "Why does he suddenly turn into this diabolical monster? It doesn't make any sense." 

The defence characterized the Crown's case as one based on speculation rather than hard evidence. 

"The fate of another person cannot be based on a guess or speculation," Bottos said. "He can't afford for you to be wrong." 

The jury will be given instructions on the law by Justice Stephen Hillier on Thursday morning and then will begin deliberations. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

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