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Murder trial hears Saskatchewan Mountie sometimes shared bed with shooting victim

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — Family of a former Saskatchewan Mountie accused of murder say the officer held hands and shared a bed with the man who was shot and killed.

Bernie Herman, 55, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 2021 death of 26-year-old Braden Herman. The two men are not related.

Braden Herman’s body was found in an isolated area of Little Red River Park, on the outskirts of Prince Albert, Sask.

The officer's wife, Janice Herman, testified Tuesday that Braden Herman came to live with her family in 2018 after Bernie Herman met the younger man on Facebook.

Braden Herman used a bedroom in the basement and, Janice Herman told court, her husband would sometimes sleep in the same room. She said Braden Herman had anxiety and needed attention.

"It hurt," she said about the changing dynamic in her marriage.

The Mountie's daughter, Jana MacDonald, also lived in the house for a time. She said initially her father and Braden Herman seemed like friends, but quickly the relationship became "weird."

"They were holding hands in the house," she said, adding her father and Braden Herman shared the downstairs bedroom for months.

Both women told court that Braden Herman became possessive over Bernie Herman. Janice Herman testified he would act out if her husband showed her any affection.

"(Braden Herman) always created drama," she said.

Court heard on the first day of the trial Monday that the veteran Mountie had sent a text to his wife saying he shot someone.

Const. Richard Wittal told the trial that Bernie Herman’s wife and daughter went to his house the night of the killing. They showed Wittal a text message allegedly from Bernie Herman that read: “I shot Braden. It’s over and done with.”

Court heard Bernie Herman drove to his staff sergeant's home, where he was arrested.

An agreed statement of facts said Braden Herman was shot with a pistol issued by the RCMP to Bernie Herman. The officer was also wearing his uniform and vest when he arrived at his staff sergeant's home.

Janice Herman testified she kicked Braden Herman out of the family's home after nearly a year because of his behaviour, especially toward her husband. The daughter said Braden Herman became upset after he was no longer allowed to use the basement bedroom.

Janice Herman and Braden Herman continued to socialize, meeting for coffee or seeing each other at bars, she said, and Braden Herman began to get violent. Braden Herman also continued to contact and meet up with Bernie Herman, she said.

During cross-examination, defence lawyers asked Janice Herman to go through photos she took of bruises, cuts and other wounds on her and her husband that Braden Herman allegedly caused.

She also showed photos of damage Braden Herman allegedly caused to their home.

Janice Herman said charges were filed against Braden Herman and she had a no-contact order against him.

However, she testified that she socialized with Braden Herman the night before he died. She also told court she dropped off alcohol for Braden Herman and a friend the day of the shooting.

On that day, Janice Herman said she overheard a phone conversation between Braden Herman and her husband. She testified that Braden Herman said, "Sounds like you just want to kill me."

She left quickly and went home to sleep, she said.

Her daughter told court that she had received a message on social media from Braden Herman mentioning her mother that morning. MacDonald said she didn't think much of it, but by this time wanted nothing to do with situations involving Braden Herman.

MacDonald said she took a photo of the message and sent it to her father.

"(Bernie Herman) didn't seem too happy about Braden and my mom having contact with each other," she said.

Court heard Bernie Herman had been at an RCMP all-terrain vehicle training course that day. RCMP Corp. Keven Carreau testified he overheard Bernie Herman on the phone saying: "Leave me alone. Don't call me anymore."

Bernie Herman departed at the end of the training course wearing his uniform and duty belt. Carreau said Bernie Herman told him he intended to clean them at home after the training left them dirty. Court heard the former Mountie usually left these items in his locker at the RCMP station.

Later that same day, Braden Herman's body was found naked, only wearing glasses, in an isolated area of the park off a bush road.

Sgt. Curtis Bradbury with the Prince Albert Police Service testified Braden Herman had a gunshot wound, two large bruises on his upper chest and other injuries. A silver bullet casing was found nearby.

Court heard earlier that Bernie Herman had a few nicks on his knuckles but no other sign of injury after his arrest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2023.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press