A father and son charged with second degree murder in the deaths of two Métis hunters who were shot to death in northern Alberta last spring have been denied bail.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Robert Graesser issued his decision during a hearing in Edmonton on Friday, but the details of his decision and evidence presented in the courtroom on Tuesday are protected by a publication ban.
The decision brought cheers and tears from the dozen people — members of the victims' families and their supporters — gathered outside the downtown courthouse.
Jake Sansom, 39, and his uncle Maurice Cardinal, 57, were shot to death last March on a rural road near Siebert Lake, 265 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
Roger Bilodeau, 59, and his son Anthony Bilodeau, 32, each face two counts of second-degree murder in the killings.
'Huge, huge victory'
William Cardinal-Mawer, Sansom's cousin and Cardinal's nephew, said the decision came as a relief to the family.
His voice broke as word of the judge's decision spread through the crowd gathered outside the courthouse.
"It's a huge, huge victory for my family," Cardinal-Mawer said. "Moments like this, when we get good news like this, it reminds us why we continue to fight, why we continue to show up and raise awareness about this murder trial.
"We are very overjoyed and very relieved. I have no words."
Cardinal-Mawer said it would be crushing if the accused men were to be released. He said Cardinal and Sansom were generous men who did not deserve to die by violence.
The family is praying for "justice to be delivered," he said.
"My cousin Jake and my uncle Morris were two of the most incredible men you could ever meet," he said. "They loved their family, they loved their friends and they sacrificed so many things, so many times.
"They would hunt for food and give it to families who were in need.
"The whole Métis community in that area is in mourning and very broken right now."
The accused, from the Glendon area, are set to be tried together before a jury in St. Paul on May 25.
They remain in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre and appeared at Friday's hearing by video feed.
Both men applied for a review after they were denied bail.
Sansom and Cardinal's bodies were discovered on March 28 near Glendon, about 30 kilometres west of Bonnyville.
The men had shot a moose the previous day and had spent the afternoon butchering the animal at the home of a relative who lived in the area.
That night, they were shot to death on a rural road.
RCMP have said two vehicles came to a stop in the area at 9:30 p.m. and an argument between the occupants turned physical when a third vehicle pulled up. Several gunshots were fired, killing Sansom and Cardinal, police say.
The bodies of the two men were found on the road outside Sansom's parked truck, around 4 a.m the following morning.
Police have said the victims and the suspects did not know know each other.