EDMONTON — A father and son accused of killing two Métis hunters took the law into their own hands when they chased them on a rural Alberta road, shot them and left them to die, a Crown prosecutor told court Thursday.
Jordan Kerr said Roger and Anthony Bilodeau were angry because they thought the two hunters were trying to steal from them and wanted to kill them for it.
The Bilodeaus face two counts each of second-degree murder in the deaths of Jacob Sansom, who was 39, and his uncle Maurice Cardinal, who was 57. Both the accused have pleaded not guilty.
"You knew you weren't acting lawfully when you shot those two men, right?" Kerr asked Anthony Bilodeau during cross-examination.
"I believed our lives were in danger and I was very afraid that these men were going to kill us," Bilodeau replied.
The trial has heard a recorded interview between an RCMP officer and Anthony Bilodeau on March 31, 2020 — four days after the shooting near Glendon, Alta., about 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
In the recording, Bilodeau tells Sgt. Christian Reister that he did not shoot the hunters and didn't know anything about their deaths.
Court has also heard that Bilodeau, 33, got a call from his father and younger brother, Joseph Bilodeau, on the night of March 27, 2020, saying they were following a truck they thought had been in their yard. Joseph Bilodeau, then 16, had seen a blue Chevy pickup earlier in the day.
Jurors have been told the teen and his father got into a truck to follow the other pickup, so they could ask the people what they were doing. The teen has testified that the vehicle they were following that night turned out to be a white Dodge pickup truck.
Anthony Bilodeau has said that he was home when he got the phone call to bring a gun and catch up with his father and brother in case they needed protection from the people in the Dodge.
“You could have told him, 'Dad, this is ridiculous. Pull over. We’re calling police,’” Kerr told Anthony Bilodeau.
“I didn’t think of it at that time,” he replied.
Bilodeau has testified that his cellphone was still connected to a Bluetooth speaker in his father's truck when he heard thuds and the sound of a window cracking. The window of Roger Bilodeau's Ford F-150 was punched in before he and his son were allegedly attacked inside it, the jury has heard.
Kerr asked Anthony Bilodeau whether it was possible the people were upset because they had just been chased down the road in the dark in an isolated area.
“I believed that could be a possibility,” he replied.
He said he showed up at a rural intersection where his father and brother were stopped and could see one of the hunters choking his father.
He added that he wasn’t sure whether that person had a gun, so he quickly loaded his own rifle and got out of his truck with it.
From the witness stand, Anthony Bilodeau, using two hands, demonstrated how he said the man was choking his father.
Kerr pointed out that that the man couldn't be holding a weapon if both hands were choking Roger Bilodeau.
"So nobody visible to you had a firearm," Kerr said.
“That’s correct,” Bilodeau said.
"You’re the first person to introduce a gun to this situation, right?" asked the Crown.
“Yes,” Bilodeau replied.
Kerr said Anthony Bilodeau shot Sansom "point blank" in the chest.
Anthony Bilodeau has testified that both men were coming at him. After shooting Sansom, he said, Cardinal came at him with a gun and threatened to kill him in retaliation.
Bilodeau said at that point he ran over to the side of the road and shot Cardinal once in the shoulder.
By then, Roger Bilodeau had turned his truck around and Anthony Bilodeau could have hopped in and left, Kerr said.
Instead, Kerr said, Anthony Bilodeau went over to Cardinal, who was hunched by the side of the Dodge, and shot him a second time and then a third time when he was already on the ground.
Anthony Bilodeau said the man kept telling him he was going to kill him.
"That's a lie," Kerr said. "He never said that to you when you went back around that Dodge truck. He was physically incapable of saying that to you. He was dying."
Court heard that Cardinal was found with no gun at his side. Instead, there was an unloaded one in the back passenger seat near where Cardinal had been standing.
An evidence photo presented to Anthony Bilodeau showed the gun did not have a clip in it. The photo also showed the clip was under a bag.
Anthony Bilodeau testified that after the shootings, he cut up his gun in four to five pieces, took a set of lights off his truck bumper and disposed of the items separately.
He said he didn't recall talking to his father or brother about reporting the shooting to police.
Anthony Bilodeau has said he destroyed evidence and lied to police because he was afraid of going to jail for protecting his family.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.
Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press