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Love, sex and death: Murder trial hears texts between victim and Saskatchewan Mountie

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — The wife of a former Mountie charged with murder sent messages to the officer the day of the killing accusing him of letting down his family by having a sexual relationship with the victim.

Bernie Herman responded with a message to his wife: "Just so you know your life has changed from here on. I just shot and killed him."

Herman, 55, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 2021 death of 26-year-old Braden Herman in Prince Albert, Sask.

The two men are not related.

Court has heard Braden Herman’s naked body was found in an isolated area of Little Red River Park, on the outskirts of the province’s third largest city. He had been shot in the chest.

Three years of text messages between the officer and his wife were submitted as evidence in the trial Wednesday, as well as social media messages allegedly between the Mountie and the victim about love and sex.

Images found on Bernie Herman's phone show what appear to be Snapchat messages from Braden Herman. The messages include explicit sexual references, conversations about love and messages about the officer's wife.

Const. Riley Babott, a digital forensics examiner with Calgary police who analyzed the devices, read the messages in court. Some show affection and desire between the two men.

Other messages show frustrations with their treatment of each other and issues with Bernie Herman's wife.

In a photograph from 2020 of a Snapchat conversation between the two men, Braden Herman says he's not ashamed of their relationship but accuses the Mountie of being too shy to come out.

"At some point you will accept yourself," says the message from Braden Herman.

The trial is scheduled to continue Thursday, when the Crown is expected to wrap up its evidence and the defence is to present its case.

The trial was previously told the two men met on Facebook and often shared a bed after Braden Herman moved in with the veteran officer and his family in 2018. The officer's wife, Janice Herman, told court she kicked the younger man out almost a year later.

She testified Tuesday that she was hurt by the changing dynamic in her marriage. Messages between Janice Herman and her husband show years of conflict heightened by the Mountie's continued relationship with Braden Herman.

"When you were having the time of your life in our basement, I was upstairs crying," she says in a message to her husband two weeks before the killing.

In messages between the married couple, Janice Herman accuses her husband of lying about cutting things off with the younger man. She says her husband continues to talk daily with Braden Herman.

"You have no respect for me. You want him, not me," says a message from Janice Herman to her husband in 2020.

The messages also include accusations that the officer and his wife were physically violent with each other.

Janice Herman testified that Braden Herman was possessive of her husband and became more violent and unpredictable after she kicked him out of the family's home.

However, both the officer and his wife continued to have contact with the younger man.

Janice Herman said she socialized with Braden Herman the night before his death. She also dropped off alcohol for him and a friend on May 11, 2021, the day he was killed.

Court heard Janice Herman sent messages to her husband during that same time.

"You telling (Braden Herman) you want him and not your wife, that, too hurts," she says in a text to her husband.

Court heard the Mountie called Braden Herman at least 19 times the day of the killing, and most went unanswered.

About 6:30 p.m., Bernie Herman sent the text to his wife saying he'd had enough and shot the younger man.

"Love you my wife and tell the kids also."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2023.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This story has been clarified. A previous version may have left the impression that autopsy evidence of the victim was to be presented on Wednesday, when in fact it was forensic cellphone information.