Urinal incident spurs call for mistrial in meat wastage case
Judge says accused using urinal next to him was 'completely inappropriate'
The judge in a meat wastage trial taking place in Behchoko, N.W.T., told the court today that it was "completely inappropriate" for one of the accused to use a urinal next to him during a break in proceedings.
Judge Brian Bruser told the court Thursday afternoon that during a five-minute recess he was using one of the urinals in the men's washroom when one of the accused, Frank Arrowmaker, entered the washroom and used the second urinal next to him. Neither man spoke.
Gameti Chief David Wedawin and brothers Jimmy and Frank Arrowmaker are each charged with a dozen counts of meat wastage. Crown prosecutors say they left caribou meat behind after a hunting trip to Hottah Lake in April 2013.
The trial is taking place in Behchoko's community hall, which has one men's and one women's washroom. The men's washroom has two urinals and a few stalls.
Bruser told the court Arrowmaker's actions "lacked total common sense."
Arrowmaker's lawyer then applied for a mistrial, saying Bruser's remarks showed he was biased against his client and he would not be able to get a fair trial.
The judge and the Crown lawyer disagreed. Bruser said he was not biased against Arrowmaker and that he only brought up the incident to make sure everything was on the table.
Bruser said his comments did not call the accused's character into question. Court then continued.
Arrowmaker's lawyer now has the option of making an application to the Supreme Court to have Bruser taken off the case.
Gameti resident Leon Wellin continued his testimony Thursday. He says while he was out hunting with a group on Hottah Lake in April 2013, Jimmy Arrowmaker approached them and told them to follow him. They did and found Wedawin and Frank Arrowmaker harvesting 15 caribou.
Wellin told the court that Wedawin and the Arrowmaker brothers were drinking. He said they told him and the other hunters to take some of the meat. A few hours later, when Wedawin and the Arrowmakers left, Wellin says they told him and the other hunters to clean up when they were done.
Wellin said he filled his toboggan with meat he had cut and left the animals Wedawin and the Arrowmakers had butchered at the site. Wellin says he took four of six caribou he took from the lake to Whati and traded them for a boat motor.
Days later in Gameti, Wellin told a wildlife officer he had given the meat to his grandmother. Trading with animal parts is illegal under N.W.T.'s Wildlife Act.
The case has been adjourned until the new year.