A planned murder hearing ended abruptly on Wednesday before it even started.
Four people charged with the second-degree murder of Gordon Marlice Strawberry last September near Rocky Mountain House waived their preliminary hearings and will have their charges resolved, Crown prosecutor Robin Joudrey told provincial court Judge John Holmes.
In addition to saving tens of thousands of dollars in court costs, the move will spare scores of people from having to testify, including four youngsters between the ages of nine and 14.
The hearing should have been held in Rocky but for security reasons it was moved to Red Deer.
All the civilian witnesses are from the Rocky area and would have to travel back and forth each day.
The four accused will return to Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Sept. 12. Terrence Andy Beaverbones, 21, Evan Everest Foureyes, 21, Jenny Olivia Beaverbones, 26, and Malvina Jean Beaverbones, 36, all remain in custody. They are all charged with second-degree murder.
A fifth accused — Cameron Paul Strawberry, 37, of the Rocky Mountain House area — waived his hearing on Tuesday. He also returns on Sept. 12.
Darcy John Lightfoot, 30, was sentenced to six more years in prison after being credited for time served in a Queen’s Bench sentencing last week. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the killing.
Gordon Strawberry, 45, was beaten with fists and a board, stomped on and stabbed on Sept. 17, 2010, at the O’Chiese First Nation Reserve 53 km northwest of Rocky.
Holmes heard the accused, who have all been in custody since the murder, have been moved all over the province to various remand centres.
Preliminary hearings are held to determine if there’s enough evidence to warrant the accused stand trial in Queen’s Bench.