Video of shooting deaths in rural Alberta at center of second-degree murder trial for father and son
EDMONTON — A jury is being asked to decide whether newly released video footage of two Métis hunters being shot to death on a rural Alberta road is evidence that the shooting was done in self-defense or with intent to kill.
It will be up to the jurors to assess what happened after they hear from Crown prosecutors and defense lawyers during the second-degree murder trial for Anthony Bilodeau, 33, and his father, Roger Bilodeau, 58. Both have pleaded not guilty in the trial , which began earlier this week.
The two men who were shot – Jacob Sansom, 39, and his uncle, Morris Cardinal, 57 – had been hunting on March 27, 2020, successfully bagging a moose.
After going to a friend’s near Glendon, a small farming village in eastern Alberta, to skin the animal and drink some beer, Sansom and Cardinal departed and eventually came to be near Roger Bilodeau’s residence just north of the village.
Court has heard that Roger Bilodeau thought the two men were suspicious and decided to pursue them, at speeds as fast as 152 kilometers an hour, with his 16-year-old son Joseph Bilodeau in the passenger seat. At some point, Roger Bilodeau called Joseph’s brother Anthony and told him to bring a gun, and that “these sons of bitches are coming to steal or do something.”
Content warning: The following video shows the shooting deaths of Jacob Sansom and his uncle, Morris Cardinal. Viewer discretion is advised.
What happened next was captured on a surveillance camera mounted near a Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. gas plant. The footage, released by the court Wednesday, is central for both the Crown lawyers, who say it shows how the Bilodeau men had intended to kill the two hunters, and the defense lawyers, who argue it shows how the accused men had to defend themselves .
In the video, snow blankets the sides of the road where a truck is seen heading north before stopping at the remote intersection of Township Road 622 and Range Road 484. This is Jacob Sansom’s Dodge truck, which he is driving with Cardinal in the passenger seat , according to an agreed statement of facts in the trial.
Later, it was determined that Sansom’s blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal driving limit and Cardinal’s was 1.7 times the limit, according to the same statement.
Then a second truck – driven by Roger Bilodeau, with Joseph in the passenger seat – arrives and pulls up to the left of Sansom’s truck. The video’s time-stamp says it’s 9:45 pm on March 27, but the actual time was about five minutes later than that, closer to 9:50 pm, according to the agreed statement.
It appears that Sansom gets out of his truck. Roger Bilodeau drives directly in front of Sansom’s truck and a little to the right. Sansom appears to walk toward Roger Bilodeau’s truck before the rear lights can be seen going on and Roger Bilodeau reverses, coming close to Sansom.
Crown prosecutors have said Roger Bilodeau was trying to drive into Sansom, but the defense has said this was not his intent.
Cardinal is then seen approaching the truck on foot and an altercation appears to take place. Defense lawyer Shawn Gerstel, representing Roger Bilodeau, has said that Sansom begins attacking Joseph Bilodeau at this point and that Sansom punched out the passenger-side window.
Then, Gerstel has said, Sansom goes to the driver’s side of the truck and appears to start throwing punches at Roger Bilodeau, whose shirt was ripped during the altercation.
About one minute passes before Anthony Bilodeau’s truck is seen pulling up behind the other two vehicles. He then gets out of his truck. Prosecutors and defense lawyers agree that Sansom begins walking toward Anthony Bilodeau, who is standing in the light of his own truck’s headlights in the road.
Anthony takes several steps back and appears to shoot Sansom in the chest. Anthony Bilodeau had been at the scene for about 26 seconds.
The defense has said that at this moment in the video it appears that Cardinal points a shotgun at Anthony Bilodeau, who retreats to the opposite side of the road on foot from Cardinal. Cardinal retreats behind Sansom’s truck, where he stands until Anthony runs over to him and appears to shoot him, causing Cardinal to drop to the ground.
The three Bilodeaus appear to gather for just over a minute before they get in their trucks and leave.
Around 4 am the following morning, a local resident found Sansom in the road and Cardinal near the truck before alerting police.
The trial continues Thursday.
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