Defence lawyer Morris Bodnar says that Sheree Fertuck, who has not been seen or heard from since Dec. 7, 2015, could still be alive.
Bodnar made the suggestion Tuesday while cross-examining Sgt. Tiffany Climenhaga, the lead officer in the Greg Fertuck murder investigation.
Greg is on trial at Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon charged with first-degree murder in Sheree's disappearance. He has pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution's theory is that Greg shot his ex-wife twice during a confrontation at the gravel pit near Kenaston, Sask., where she worked, and then moved her body to another location in the country.
Her semi truck was found at the gravel pit the next day, but her body has never been found.
The Crown's theory is based on disclosures Greg made to undercover police officers posing as criminals in an elaborate RCMP operation commonly known as a 'Mr. Big' sting.
Bodnar suggested that, as lead investigator, Climenhaga needed to consider three scenarios. The first was that Greg Fertuck killed his wife.
"Correct," Climenhaga testified.
At this point, prosecutor Cory Bliss objected and asked the defence to clarify for Climenhaga what it meant by 'scenarios.'
Justice Richard Danyliuk interjected and suggested Bodnar was proposing "alternative explanations for the factual matrix." Bodnar agreed that was in fact his intention.
Bodnar then said a second scenario was that Sheree was dead but that Greg did not kill her. Climenhaga agreed. Earlier, she had testified how investigators had considered but then ruled out Sheree's brother Darren and a business rival, Jeff Sagen, as possible suspects.
Then Bodnar suggested a third scenario: that Sheree was still alive.
Bodnar pointed to the absence of blood, beyond a 'speck' found on Greg's truck bed liner. He referenced Sheree having told her daughter and a friend that, should she go missing, that police should look at Greg.
Bodnar said that Sheree's children did not help search for her and that two witnesses said they believed they'd seen Sheree's semi-truck outside the time window that police say Greg allegedly killed her.
"Is Sheree dead?" Bodnar asked.
"I believe she is dead," Climenhaga replied.
Climenhaga said investigators considered but ultimately did not accept two witness statements suggesting Sheree's semi had been spotted later on Dec. 7, the days she was last seen leaving her family's farm near Kenaston.
The Crown's theory is that Greg confronted her at the gravel pit sometime between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. CST that day and killed her. But the two witnesses claim to have seen her truck driving between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. CST.
Climenhaga said that the possible 2 p.m. sighting fit into the prosecution timeline and need not be discounted.
She testified that investigators dismissed the 5 p.m. sighting because numerous family members — including Greg — began calling Sheree's cell phone after 4:30 p.m. but got an 'out of service ' area reply.
This is consistent with the dead spot in the gravel pit where her semi was found on Dec. 8, containing her jacket, keys and phone.
Fake news from the FBI
In addition to leading the investigation in Sheree's disappearance, Climenhaga also worked with the undercover team that executed the Mr. Big sting that led to the eventual murder charge against Greg.
Bodnar questioned her about "a ruse" by the fake crime boss, who was actually an RCMP officer, that involved a supposed internal RCMP letter obtained by the criminals during the sting.
The fake letter described the RCMP reaching out to the FBI in Washington, who in turn contacted the National Security Agency (NSA) to obtain high resolution satellite photos of the area over the gravel pit near Kenaston.
According to the fake letter, the NSA photos covered the Dec. 7, 2015, period when Sheree went missing and revealed all of the vehicle and foot traffic in the pit.
Climenhaga confirmed the fake letter was "a tool they use" and that it had been drafted by the crime boss to use during one of the scenarios.
The trial continues Wednesday.