First-degree murder trial postponed in Saskatoon due to spread of COVID-19

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REGINA — A Saskatchewan judge has adjourned a first-degree murder trial set for Monday over concerns about witnesses travelling from Regina while the capital area faces a spike in COVID-19 cases.

A Court of Queen's Bench judge says the five-week trial for Greg Fertuck has been rescheduled to begin Sept. 7.

Fertuck is accused of first-degree murder and indignity to human remains in the death of his former wife Sheree Fertuck.

She was last seen leaving her family's farmyard near Kenaston, Sask., south of Saskatoon, in December 2015.

RCMP say Fertuck's body hasn't been found, but her truck was discovered at a nearby gravel pit after she disappeared.

Fertuck's lawyer asked for an adjournment given the health and safety concerns posed by COVID-19.

Justice Richard Danyliuk says the five-week trial involves evidence from an undercover police operation and more than a dozen witnesses who would have to travel from Regina.

"There are significant public health risks in allowing so many witnesses to travel to Saskatoon from the Regina district," he wrote in a short decision released Friday.

"To ignore them would be foolhardy."

Danyliuk said he had already ordered some witnesses to testify remotely, but there are key Crown witnesses who need to be in court to ensure there is a fair trial.

The province this week issued a travel advisory for the Regina area in an effort to stop the spread of more infectious variants of the novel coronavirus.

On Friday, Saskatchewan reported 213 new COVID-19 cases.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2021

The Canadian Press