Edmonton

Edmonton court hears accused murderer confess to RCMP in shooting deaths of Métis hunters

On Thursday, the jury in a second-degree murder trial watched one of the accused confess to RCMP in a videotaped interview about his role in the March 2020 deaths of Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal.

Roger Bilodeau and son Anthony Bilodeau on trial for second-degree murder

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)

Before 58-year-old Roger Bilodeau was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of a pair of Métis hunters, he was interviewed twice on the same day by RCMP. 

During the first police interview on March 31, 2020, Bilodeau professed his innocence. This was just a few days after the shootings.

Three hours later, he went to the Bonnyville RCMP detachment and told an officer a much different story about his role in the deaths of Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal. Sansom, 39, and Cardinal, 57, were found dead on a rural road near Glendon, northeast of Edmonton in March 2020.

Bilodeau's son Anthony, 33, is also on trial in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench for two counts of second-degree murder. 

The accused's lawyers have told the jury that they acted in self-defence. 

During the first interview with Sgt. Christian Reister, Roger Bilodeau said he'd never had any break-ins or problems with poachers on his rural property just outside the village of Glendon, about 215 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. 

The officer suggested the shootings could have been "completely justifiable." 

"I sympathize with what rural people are going through with crime," Reister said. "I get that somebody shows up to steal your stuff that you worked hard for… I get how sometimes there's even gunplay."

Bilodeau said he really hadn't seen anything on the night the two men were shot just a few kilometres away from his house. 

I have nothing to hide.- Roger Bilodeau

"I don't know what's going on here," Bilodeau told the officer. "I have nothing to hide." 

When the officer showed him a picture of the two victims, Bilodeau said he didn't recognize them. He agreed to take a polygraph.   

Reister asked, "Did you shoot these people?"

Bilodeau said, "No," without any hesitation.

Bilodeau changes story

Three hours later, the father of nine sat on a chair in the corner of a cell block interview room at the Bonnyville RCMP detachment. 

Bilodeau admitted that when he saw truck lights in his yard, he and his 16-year-old son jumped into his truck to give chase. Even though it was March, he didn't stop to put on a coat. 

"That's when I called my other son," Bilodeau told the officer in the videotaped interview, referring to Anthony. "[I] said these sons of bitches are going to steal or do something."

The jury has already heard that Bilodeau told Anthony to bring a gun. 

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)

Bilodeau said when the hunters' vehicle stopped at an intersection, he pulled his truck in front. 

"I was gonna back up and smoke him," Bilodeau said. "Because I was frigging mad."

He said one of the hunters began beating on his passenger side window, trying to pull the 16-year-old out of the truck. 

"The other guy came over to my side," Bilodeau said. "He ripped my shirt and he said, 'Let's kill these motherf---kers.' 

"The other guy said, 'I'll get a knife. I'll kill both of them.'"

Surveillance video taken from a gas plant camera located at that intersection showed Anthony Bilodeau showing up two minutes after the vehicles stopped. 

"He shot the one guy," Bilodeau said. "Then he blasted the other guy." 

"Do you know how many times he shot?" Reister asked. 

"Two for sure," Bilodeau said, then laughed. 

He said he was in shock at what had just happened after the shooting. 

"I told Anthony we should phone the RCMP and he said, 'Dad, let's not do anything.'"

Bilodeau said he didn't tell his wife about it until the next morning. When he revealed what happened, he said she told him to call the RCMP. 

"You know, we're Catholic," Bilodeau said as he appeared to fight back tears. "So we said prayers."

"At some point you've got to forgive yourself too, right?" Reister said as he praised Bilodeau for having the courage to come forward. 

The rest of the video will be played for the jury on Friday morning.

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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