EDMONTON — A hunter’s wife has testified she texted her husband not to drink and drive or get in a fight the night he and his uncle were shot to death on a rural Alberta road.
Sarah Sansom told a jury trial in Edmonton on Tuesday that alcohol consumption had previously caused problems in her marriage with Jacob Sansom, who had quit drinking two years before his death.
Crown lawyers have said Jacob Sansom and his uncle Maurice Cardinal were followed on a rural road northeast of Edmonton in March 2020 and shot after a confrontation.
Roger Bilodeau, 58, and his son Anthony Bilodeau, 33, have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of second-degree murder.
Brian Beresh, the younger Bilodeau’s lawyer, recounted a statement Sarah Sansom gave to police and read text messages she sent moments before a security camera captured her husband and the Bilodeaus as they confronted each other.
“You recall repeatedly telling the police that you were surprised or shocked when you learned that he had been drinking,” asked Beresh.
“Yes,” Sarah Sansom responded.
“You’re saying, ‘Don’t drive,’” he said, quoting the text messages she sent.
“Then you add, ‘No fighting, no driving … Please don’t hurt yourself or (do) anything dangerous or illegal’ … because you knew that when he drank he had a tendency to become aggressive, correct?” Beresh asked.
“He wasn’t aggressive. He just did stupid things like fighting very rarely,” Sarah Sansom responded.
“He got stupid sometimes, and did stupid things,” she later added during cross-examination.
“It was like falling down a set of stairs and stumbling all over the house … and making himself look stupid.”
Prosecutor Jordan Kerr said in his opening statement Monday that Sansom and Cardinal had gone moose hunting so they could fill the family’s freezer with meat as COVID-19 was shutting down the world.
He said the older Bilodeau saw the hunters’ pickup truck slowly go by his homeand it looked like one that had been on his property that day. While following the hunters in his truck, Bilodeau phoned his son and asked him to follow behind and to bring a gun, said the prosecutor.
Security footage from a nearby gas station shows the Bilodeau men in their trucks following Sansom and Cardinal in theirs, Kerr said.
Court heard Roger Bilodeau and the hunters first stopped their trucks on the road. Anthony Bilodeau arrived soon after. Within 26 seconds, he shot Sansom, then shot Cardinal as the hunter was walking to his truck, said Kerr.
A motorist called RCMP after finding Sansom dead in the middle of the road and Cardinal’s body in a ditch.
Autopsies determined that Sansom was shot once in the chest and Cardinal was shot three times in his left shoulder, said Kerr.
Defence lawyer Shawn Gerstel said Anthony Bilodeau shot at the hunters because Sansom had smashed a window of Roger Bilodeau’s truck and punched him. He had also punched his youngest son, who was 16 at the time and was sitting in the passenger seat, the lawyer said.
On Tuesday afternoon, Jason Katish took the witness stand, disputing the wording of statements he gave to police after the men were shot.
Katish said Sansom and Cardinal came to his home unannounced after their hunt and skinned the moose at his home. They also came inside for beers and burgers. They stayed until around 9:30 p.m.
In the police statement, Katish said Sansom was loud, swearing, and behaving obnoxiously that night. Katish disagreed with some of the characterizations in court.
“Sansom for sure was getting rowdy,” Beresh said.
“Those weren’t my words,” Katish responded.
“He was getting loud and obnoxious,” Beresh said.
“He was getting loud,” Katish responded.
Katish said later that night they went to pick up more drinks from a friend.
“You’re glad to see these guys leave because they were trouble, is that right” Beresh asked.
“That’s false,” Katish responded.
“Look witness, we’re not playing here. In your assessment, they were drunk. Isn’t that correct,” Beresh asked.
“They were feeling good,” Katish responded.
Katish later testified Sansom was drunk enough to stop feeling pain at “some level.”
The trial is to continue on Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press