Photo: The Canadian Press
Jake (Jacob) Sansom (left) and his uncle Morris (Maurice) Cardinal are shown in a photo on the “Justice for Jake and Morris” Facebook page. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Justice for Jake and Morris
A man on trial for killing two Métis hunters testified that he cut up his gun, threw it in a dumpster and lied to police about his involvement in the shooting out of fear of going to jail to protect himself and his family.
Anthony Bilodeau, 33, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Jacob Sansom, 39, and Maurice Cardinal, 57, in northeast Edmonton.
Bilodeau’s father, Roger Bilodeau, also pleaded not guilty to the same charges.
A jury heard that Sansom was shot in the chest and Cardinal was shot three times in the shoulder. His bodies were found the next day on the side of a country road near Glendon, Alta.
Crown prosecutors have argued that the killings were not justified in any way. They said security footage shows Anthony Bilodeau shot Sansom within 26 seconds of arriving on the scene and then shot Cardinal as the hunter walked away.
The trial heard a recorded interview between an RCMP officer and Anthony Bilodeau on March 31, 2020, four days after the shooting.
On the recording, Bilodeau tells Sgt. Christian Reister that he did not shoot the hunters and that he knew nothing about their deaths.
Brian Beresh, Bilodeau’s attorney, asked him Wednesday why he lied to police and got rid of the gun.
“I was scared. I didn’t know the laws of self-defense,” Bilodeau said.
“I was afraid of going to jail to protect my family.”
Bilodeau testified that he had been exhausted, working as a heavy-duty mechanic and waking up most nights for nearly a month to help deliver deliveries on his farm.
He said he received a call from his father and younger brother, Joseph Bilodeau, on the night of March 27, 2020. They said they were following a van that had stopped in their driveway before speeding out.
Joseph Bilodeau, now 18 and not charged in the case, testified last week that he had also seen a blue Chevrolet pickup on his parents’ farm that same day and suspected that the one they were following, a white Dodge pickup, there was something to do with it.
Anthony Bilodeau, who lived nearby, said he was asked to bring a gun to protect himself and reach his father and brother. But he said that he had no intention of using the gun.
Bilodeau said his father told him on the phone: “We got them, you have to come here.”
He testified that he asked his father what he was talking about. “That’s when (Roger Bilodeau) said, ‘We caught the thieves, they came back. You have to come here'”.
Bilodeau and his younger brother testified that there was an increase in burglaries in the Glendon area, although their homes were not attacked.
However, he said at trial that a couple of years earlier they had stolen $15,000 worth of tools from his father’s truck repair shop and that the police did not respond. Bilodeau said that he went to the police station to report the robbery.
Bilodeau testified that before he got into his truck to meet his father and brother, he removed a gun and some ammunition from his safe.
“I thought these guys were armed, they had guns and they were going to use them,” Bilodeau said.
Bilodeau said he was still in line with his father and brother when their truck pulled up next to the van they were following.
He said he heard his father ask the people in the other truck what they were doing in his garden. Then there were several knocks and the creaking of a window.
The court heard that one of the hunters allegedly hit and broke the passenger window of Roger Bilodeau’s Ford F-150.
“At that point, I knew I had to get there because I knew they were in trouble and I had to help,” Anthony Bilodeau testified.
He said he heard his younger brother yell at someone to get off him and leave him alone. Bilodeau said he then heard someone tell another person to grab a knife to kill him.
Bilodeau said he began to worry that he wouldn’t make it in time to save his father and brother. “I was devastated… I was wiping my tears on the way.”
When he stopped where his father’s vehicle was parked next to a Dodge pickup, Bilodeau said he saw a man choking his father.
He said he loaded his gun, walked out and said, “Hey, enough is enough.”
Bilodeau said the man choking his father charged at him while yelling at another man to grab a gun so he could kill him.
He said he shot that man while the other man was also coming at him with “a very large firearm,” which he held to his chest.
Bilodeau said his gun was jammed, so he ran into a ditch before he could unjam it and shoot the second man, who was now pointing a gun at him.
Bilodeau said he shot him two more times after the man repeated that he was going to kill him.
Bilodeau said he, his father and brother went home.
The trial is expected to continue on Thursday with Bilodeau being cross-examined by Crown prosecutors.