Jury deliberating verdict in Bradley Barton manslaughter case
Warning: This story includes graphic and disturbing details
Deliberations are underway in the manslaughter trial of Bradley Barton, the man accused of killing Cindy Gladue.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Stephen Hillier sequestered the jury around 8:30 p.m Thursday but told jurors not to begin deliberations until Friday morning because it had been a long day.
Hillier spent Thursday giving final instructions to the jury, outlining areas of law related to the case, and laying out questions jurors need to answer as they deliberate whether or not to find Barton guilty.
Following a lunch break, Hillier's instructions were put on hold after one of the jurors reported hearing another juror make disparaging remarks about sex work.
Hillier had warned the jury mid-trial, and again Thursday, that they must not rely on stereotypes and prejudices about sex workers as they consider the case.
The issue is significant. The trial is Barton's second in relation to Gladue's death. During the first trial, Gladue was referred to as "native" and a "prostitute," sparking public outrage and concerns about how issues of consent had been explained to the jury.
On Thursday during a voir dire — a trial within a trial — Hillier first questioned the juror who reported the other for making remarks.
The juror sounded like they were crying as they explained that their fellow juror had twice made comments about prostitution — once a few weeks ago, and again Thursday morning.
The court has directed that no information identifying either juror can be published.
"[The juror] piped up again and said it was unacceptable that Cindy was a prostitute," they said. "That's when I debated whether I should make this mess of things."
The juror who was the subject of the complaint was also questioned about what happened. They denied the first incident, but admitted they'd made the Thursday morning comment.
"I said prostitution is bad, like it's something bad," they said. "None of this would have happened if that hadn't have been part of it."
"I said, 'If it wasn't sex for money this whole thing wouldn't have happened,'" they said.
However, the juror said they have no bias against anyone, and said the other juror had been trying to sway their views.
"[They're] not doing what you're telling us to do," the second juror said.
Hillier decided to dismiss both of them.
"There's an irreconcilable tension between the two of them," the judge said.
Hillier's instructions carried on into Thursday evening, after which the jury was sequestered. The remaining 11 jurors began deliberating at 9 a.m. Friday morning.
The 52-year-old Barton, a former long-distance truck driver from Ontario, is accused of causing a fatal injury to 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.
Hillier told jurors they must determine if Crown prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Barton sexually assaulted Gladue, that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would see that the sexual activity in question exposed Gladue to bodily harm, and that the act caused her death.
Barton insisted the sex was consensual and that she enjoyed it at the time. He has admitted he had sex with Cindy Gladue on two nights. Both nights he inserted his fist into her vagina.
"Mr. Barton admits that he engaged in the sexual activity in question with Ms. Gladue and that it caused Ms. Gladue serious bodily harm," Hillier told the jury.
"The question for you is: did he mean to do it?"
During the trial, the court heard the cause of death was blunt-force trauma, and that Gladue bled to death due to an 11-centimetre tear to her vaginal wall. During cross-examination, Crown prosecutors alleged that after injuring Gladue, Barton moved her from the bed to the bathtub and left her there to bleed to death.
While testifying, Barton denied the Crown's theory about what happened. He testified that he was shocked when he found her naked body in a bloody bathtub the next morning.
Hillier told the jury that Barton's position during the trial was that he believed Gladue was consenting to the sexual activity. He told jurors they must determine whether or not Gladue consented — or if she even had the capacity to consent because of evidence that she was intoxicated — and that they must also determine if Barton honestly believed he had her consent.
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The jury has been told Gladue's blood-alcohol content was four times the legal limit at the time of her death.
"There's no consent unless Ms. Gladue agreed and continued to agree in her mind," the judge said, as he spoke at length about the definition of consent under the law.
Hillier also cautioned the jury against relying on myths or stereotypes about Indigenous people, particularly women and girls who have been subjected to colonialism and violence for many years. He also told them they must avoid relying on prejudices about people who have done sex work.
"These persons deserve respect for their humanity and dignity. They are not sexual objects for male gratification," the judge said.
In 2015, a jury acquitted Barton of both first-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Gladue's death, triggering nationwide protests and calls for change in the justice system.
Two years later, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the decision and a new trial was ordered.
With files from Janice Johnston