'Hearsay' from Reddit and other things the Gerald Stanley trial jury didn't hear

Emotions have run high during Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley's murder trial — so high the judge had to tell people in the gallery to stop snickering and muttering words under their breath.

Judge warned people in the gallery about making comments during tense trial

The 12 jurors who are deliberating the fate of accused killer Gerald Stanley were not present for some interesting moments in court. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Emotions have run high during Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley's murder trial — so high the judge had to tell people in the gallery to stop snickering and muttering words under their breath.

Stanley, 56, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Colten Boushie, 22, who died after being shot in the head on the Stanley farm near Biggar. The trial began Jan. 30 in Battleford and jurors are now behind closed doors deliberating on a verdict.

Noise from the gallery was addressed by the judge during a break in Stanley's testimony, when the jury wasn't in the courtroom.

"I know this is an emotional case and I know that people are very vested in what's happening, but that can't happen," said Martel Popescul, chief justice of Saskatchewan's Court of Queen's Bench.

Popescul said it was the first time in his long career that he had to say that in court based on a complaint from a juror.

"It's not a sporting event where we're rooting for one team or another," he said.

Boushie and four other young people from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation reserve drove onto Stanley's rural property in an SUV on Aug. 9, 2016. Boushie was shot during an altercation between the people in the SUV and Stanley, his son and his wife.

Stanley's second-degree murder trial has unfolded at the Court of Queen's Bench in Battleford, Sask. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Popescul's stern order about court conduct was one of the things the five men and seven women on the jury didn't hear.

Here are four others:

Original statements

A summary of witness accounts in the RCMP's Aug. 10, 2016, application to search the Stanley home says, "Gerald Stanley agreed with [RCMP] Const. [Aaron] Gullacher when Const. Gulacher told him that Gerald Stanley went up to the driver's side window and shot the male driver once in the head and killed him."

During the trial, Stanley testified he didn't mean to kill or even hurt anyone. The farmer said he reached into the SUV for the keys with one hand and the handgun in the other. He said his finger was not on the trigger. Then the gun went off.

The summary of witness accounts also includes a notable discrepancy in what one witness said during the trial.

Belinda Jackson, one of the people who was in the SUV with Boushie, initially told police she remembered waking up to see Boushie's girlfriend, Kiora Wuttunee, screaming and saying Boushie had been shot.

Jackson told the jury she saw Stanley shoot Boushie twice in the head, and that she identified Stanley later when she was shown a photo.

Midway through Jackson's testimony, during a pause when the jury was not in the room, Scott Spencer, Stanley's attorney, told the judge: "I believe this witness should be cautioned about perjury."

The no-show witness

Jurors heard from three Crown witnesses who arrived at the farm with Boushie. They did not hear from Wuttunee, who was also supposed to testify, but didn't.

"She did not obey her subpoena and come to court. We had to get a warrant for her arrest," Burge said outside the courtroom.

Crown prosecutor Bill Burge explains to reporters why one of his witnesses, Boushie's girlfriend Kiora Wuttunee, ultimately did not testify. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Though she was brought to the courthouse, Wuttunee was ultimately excused from testifying and the warrant dropped, said Burge.

"There didn't seem to be any purpose in now calling [Wuttunee] as a witness simply to say that she was asleep [at the time of Boushie's shooting] and didn't know what happened," Burge said.

'Wrong on so many levels'

During the fourth day of testimony, Spencer cross-examined the Crown's firearms expert about "hang fire," the delay between someone pulling a trigger and the bullet coming out.

Popescul stopped Spencer when he approached the witness with a printout of anecdotal hang fire evidence from what Spencer called "an internet source," containing anonymous voices.

"It's wrong on so many levels," said Burge.

After a break, Popescul said the printout was from a Reddit discussion thread and that he wouldn't allow Spencer to question the witness with it, saying it would be "unfair and of no value."

Gerald Stanley's attorney, Scott Spencer, addresses reporters outside the courthouse. (Jason Warick/CBC)

"There is little utility in having internet-based hearsay put to this witness," said Popescul. "Some of the information [in the Reddit printout] is impeccably accurate while other information is pure garbage."

Popescul cited several concerns with the "reliability" of the printout, including the anonymous nature of Reddit posters.

Spencer later called his own witness, Wayne Popowich, who testified he'd experienced hang fire while hunting gophers 40 years ago. 

Popowich said he'd first reached out to Spencer during the trial's weekend break.

'Shaking the feather at Mr. Stanley'

Throughout the trial, Alvin Baptiste, Boushie's uncle, has held an eagle feather inside and outside the courtroom. He said it represented "truth and justice," which Popescul passed on to the jury early in the trial.

Alvin Baptiste, Colten Boushie's uncle, stands outside the Battleford courthouse with an eagle feather he told the court represented 'truth and justice.' The judge had to warn Baptiste's aunt not to shake a feather at Stanley. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

But on Monday while the the jury was out of the courtroom, Popescul addressed Baptiste's aunt, Linda Whitford, who was seated next to Baptiste in the gallery, about a complaint she was waving a feather from the jury.

"It appears to them that you are motioning or shaking the feather at Mr. Stanley," said Popescul.

The chief justice said that was distracting to the jury.

"I want to respect culture and I want to do what's fair," said Popescul.


Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Ottawa, originally from Cornwall, Ontario.

Story tips? Email me at or DM me @gqinott on Twitter.

With files from Charles Hamilton and Jason Warick