Preliminary hearing starts in case of fatal Saskatchewan farm shooting

Preliminary hearing starts in farm shooting

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Lawyers on both sides in a preliminary hearing for a Saskatchewan farmer accused of fatally shooting an indigenous man say they hope the truth will come out.

The week-long hearing, which began Monday, will determine whether Gerald Stanley will face trial for second-degree murder in the death Colten Boushie last summer.

Boushie, who was 22, was shot and killed Aug. 9 while riding in an SUV that went onto a farm near Biggar, Sask.

Details of the preliminary hearing are under a publication ban.

Lawyer Chris Murphy, who represents Boushie’s family, said the family wants to get to the truth and ensure Stanley receives a fair trial.

Murphy said it was hard for the family to hear evidence presented at the preliminary hearing.

“I think it’s difficult for anybody to watch the evidence that occurred today and that’s just if you’re not a family member,” Murphy said outside the provincial courthouse in North Battleford, Sask.

“So I think if you compound that basically by a thousand times and you probably understand what the family’s going through.”

At one point in the hearing, Boushie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, became emotional and briefly left the courtroom.

Baptiste declined to comment outside court.

Stanley’s lawyer, Scott Spencer, said the process is extremely hard for his client as well. 

“This is extremely stressful, extremely difficult,” Spencer said outside court. “The tragedy’s not lost on anybody. The family’s in the courtroom suffering and you know that’s tough on everybody.”

Stanley has pleaded not guilty and is out on bail. He sat quietly next to Spencer in court Monday.

The killing of Boushie, who was from the Red Pheasant First Nation, ignited racial tension in Saskatchewan.

There have been large rallies outside court when Stanley made previous appearances.

RCMP closed the road in front of the courthouse Monday for the preliminary hearing, but the scene was quiet. 

“The last thing on anybody’s mind in this family is to cause any unrest. They’re here just to see what happened to their son and their brother,” said Murphy.

A handful of people held signs that said “Justice 4 Colten.” Another sign said “He was somebody’s son, cousin, nephew, uncle, brother, grandson, friend.”

Still another held a sign quoting lines from Boushie’s obituary.

“Not how did he die but how did he live? Not what did he gain but what did he give?”

 

Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press