A month-long murder preliminary hearing has been set for the summer to hear evidence against six people charged in a murder near Rocky Mountain House.
The accused, all from the O’Chiese First Nation reserve, will have the hearing beginning Aug. 2 in Red Deer provincial court, it was announced on Wednesday.
The accused will be tried together in connection with the death of Gordon Marlice Strawberry, 45, of the O’Chiese, located 53 km northwest of Rocky.
His body was found on Sept. 18 outside a reserve residence following a house party. He had been beaten but RCMP didn’t release further details.
All the accused are charged with second-degree murder and remain in custody.
Preliminary hearings are normally held in the nearest jurisdiction to where the incident occurred. They are held to determine if there’s enough evidence to warrant the accused stand trial in Court of Queen’s Bench. A trial would also be in Red Deer. Red Deer is the lone Queen’s Bench site in Central Alberta.
Security issues at the Rocky provincial court resulted in the decision to hold the hearing in Red Deer, which has more secure facilities and courtrooms. Security dictates that the accused must be separated.
In addition, the accused all have different lawyers and the Rocky courtroom is not large enough to accommodate all counsel.
Crown prosecutor Robin Fiander said outside court on Wednesday that Judges Jim Hunter and David Plosz decided at a pre-trial conference shortly before the New Year that the preliminary be held in Red Deer. The date was confirmed before Assistant Chief Judge Bert Skinner.
Cameron Paul Strawberry, 37, Terrence Andy Beaverbones, 21, Darcy John Lightfoot, 30, Evan Everest Foureyes, 21, Jenny Olivia Beaverbones, 26, and Malvina Jean Beaverbones, 36, are charged with first- and/or second-degree murder.
Cameron Strawberry was denied bail before Christmas while Malvina Beaverbones, represented by lawyer Patty MacNaughton, will have a bail review on Jan. 12.
Other bail reviews are tentatively set in the next several weeks.