COVID-19 on trial and fierce conviction: five Edmonton court cases that stood out in 2021

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A look at the Edmonton and area court cases that stood out in 2021:

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Bradley Barton

2021 saw the end of a decade-long legal saga that exposed inequalities in the way Canadian courts treat Indigenous women and sexual assault complainants.

In February, a jury found Bradley Barton guilty of manslaughter for his role in the death of 36-year-old Cindy Gladue, who lost her blood in Barton’s hotel room north of Edmonton in June 2011. A long-distance trucker, Barton claimed responsibility for the vaginal injury. killing Gladue happened unwittingly during consensual sex. The prosecution, on the other hand, argued that Barton sexually assaulted Gladue, let her die, and then lied about her involvement.

Barton was acquitted of Gladue’s murder after a trial in 2015. The Crown appealed, resulting in a scathing verdict from the Alberta Court of Appeal on how Gladue was treated in the first trial. Among other things, Gladue was characterized throughout the trial as an “aboriginal girl” and “prostitute,” while the prosecution introduced in evidence a preserved piece of Gladue’s vaginal tissue.

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A sketch of Bradley Barton's courtroom, taken on his first day of testimony in his manslaughter trial, February 1, 2021. Credit: Jim Stokes
A sketch of Bradley Barton’s courtroom, taken on his first day of testimony in his manslaughter trial, February 1, 2021. Credit: Jim Stokes

Barton appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which agreed with the Alberta court’s criticisms, but ordered a new trial for manslaughter instead of murder.

Barton was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 12 and a half years. Friends, family and Gladue supporters across Canada greeted the sentencing with relief, but we are unlikely to hear about the case for the last time. Shortly after his conviction, Barton and the Crown appealed. Barton argues that Judge Stephen Hillier was wrong to let the jury see his internet search history, while the Crown argues Barton’s sentence is too short.

Landon karas

In September, Landon Karas entered a courtroom for the first time in over a decade and again claimed he had not killed Doreen Bradley.

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Does the case indirectly, at least. He appeared before an Edmonton jury for a “faint hope” hearing – a rare type of legal maneuver that allows a person sentenced to life in prison to call a jury for a chance to get a sentence. early parole.

Landon Karas was convicted of the first degree murder in 2002 of Bonnyville A&W owner Doreen Bradley, but continues to claim his innocence.  Karas appeared in court on Monday, September 13, 2021 on a “last chance” request, asking a jury to allow him to seek parole before the mandatory 25-year threshold.
Landon Karas was convicted of the first degree murder in 2002 of Bonnyville A&W owner Doreen Bradley, but continues to claim his innocence. Karas appeared in court on Monday, September 13, 2021 on a “last chance” request, asking a jury to allow him to seek parole before the mandatory 25-year threshold. Photo by photo provided / Facebook

Usually these requests focus on a convicted person proving that they have changed their life in prison. This was in evidence at the Karas hearing. But taking care of everything was a bigger question: Is Karas the real killer? After 19 years in prison for the 2002 murder, Karas still claims his innocence. His conviction was based largely on circumstantial evidence and DNA, which was still in its infancy.

The argument that ultimately swayed the jury will remain a secret, but ultimately the jurors unanimously decided that Karas deserved the chance to at least seek parole. Its status at the time of this writing is unknown.

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Pierre Royal

One of Edmonton’s more unusual COVID-19-era court cases has been the prosecution of defense lawyer Peter Royal for refusing to wear a mask in court. Royal – one of Edmonton’s most senior defense attorneys and husband of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Mary Moreau – was cited with contempt in July for refusing to wear a mask on orders from provincial court judge Marilena Carminati.

Judge Bruce Fraser ultimately found Royal in contempt, particularly opposing Royal’s challenge to Carminati: “What are you going to do about it?” An apologizing Royal was fined $ 2,000 in November.

GraceLife Church

For a few months in early 2021, Parkland County’s GraceLife Church was at the forefront of COVID-19 culture wars in Alberta. The church and its pastor, James Coates, have repeatedly refused to meet capacity limits for indoor worship services.

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Pastor James Coates leaves the remand center hosted by a group of sympathizers after being released from the facility late Monday afternoon in Edmonton, March 22, 2021.
Pastor James Coates leaves the remand center hosted by a group of sympathizers after being released from the facility late Monday afternoon in Edmonton, March 22, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia, file

Coates was ultimately jailed for refusing to sign a bail condition that required him to follow the rules. He was eventually released, but not before his case caught the attention of Tucker Carlson.

In June, Coates failed to have Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions ruled unconstitutional. The final decision in this case is pending pending the outcome of similar proceedings in southern Alberta. Coates will be next in court in March.

Const. Michael partington

In 2019, Edmonton Police Const. Michael Partington received a call from a fellow officer asking for help with an arrest. Partington arrived at the scene and with a quick movement dropped his knee behind the back of the lying and restrained suspect.

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Const.  Curtis McCargar, left, and Const.  Michael Partington arrests Elliot McLeod after a 2019 foot chase. Partington was convicted of assault on August 26, 2021, for ramming his knee into McLeod's back while he was immobilized under McCargar.
Const. Curtis McCargar, left, and Const. Michael Partington arrests Elliot McLeod after a 2019 foot chase. Partington was convicted of assault on August 26, 2021, for ramming his knee into McLeod’s back while he was immobilized under McCargar.

If a neighbor hadn’t heard the man’s screams and pulled out his phone, this might have been the end. But in 2020, amid an uproar over the murder of George Floyd, footage of the arrest was released on social media. Partington has been charged with assaulting the arrested person – an Indigenous man named Elliot McLeod – and suspended without pay.

During the trial, it emerged that Partington’s colleague – Const. Curtis McCargar – initially arrested McLeod for cycling on a sidewalk without a doorbell. Judge Peter Ayotte ultimately didn’t believe the stories of the two officers and sentenced Partington in August. In December, Ayotte fined Partington $ 2,000 and an accompanying criminal record. His actions and those of McCargar will also be the subject of an internal disciplinary hearing, which has not been scheduled.

jwakefield@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jonnywakefield

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