The Crown and the lawyer for Gerald Stanley, the Saskatchewan farmer recently acquitted in the shooting death of Colten Boushie, indicated Monday they need more time to address a series of gun charges against him.
Neither Stanley nor his lawyer Scott Spencer were present at Saskatchewan provincial court in North Battleford on Monday to address allegations that Stanley, 56, had improperly stored seven guns on his Biggar, Sask.-area property. That is where Boushie, 22, was fatally shot in August 2016.
Spencer's participation in the brief court appearance was by phone. The matter has been pushed ahead to April 16 after court heard that Spencer is on holidays and that the Crown prosecutor also needed more time.
Boushie's family members and a handful of supporters arrived at court approximately half an hour before the 1:30 p.m. CST court appearance.
Boushie's mother, Debbie Baptiste, stood in front of a sign shoved in snow in front of the courtroom that read "Blood is on your hands Gerald Stanley" while pouring ketchup from a bottle in the snow to symbolize blood. Baptiste rested in the snow for a brief time prior to court beginning, with passersby honking in support.
"Shame on you Canada," she said.
Boushie's uncle, Alvin Baptiste, told reporters outside court before the appearance that he will continue to stand up for Indigenous rights no matter the outcome of the day.
Signs placed in snow outside court read "RCMP covered it up," and "Justice against institutional racism."
Not included among the seven guns Stanley has been charged over is the Russian-made Tokarev pistol that figured prominently in Stanley's murder trial in the Court of Queen's Bench in North Battleford earlier this year.
Stanley testified he was holding the pistol and that it accidentally fired, fatally wounding Boushie of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation. A jury found Stanley not guilty of either murder or manslaughter.
List of 7
The Tokarev was found by police inside a black case stored in a closet on the ground floor of the Stanley farmhouse. Stanley testified he traditionally used the "super loud" Tokarev to scare off coyotes preying on his farm's calves during the spring.
Also recovered at the farm, lying by Boushie's body near the SUV where Boushie was shot inside, was a .22-calibre rifle with its stock missing. Cassidy Cross-Whitstone, another passenger in the SUV, testified that the rifle belonged to him.
The seven guns alleged to be stored improperly by Stanley, as listed in the court file, are:
- A J Stevens Arms Company 520 rifle.
- A .22-calibre semi-automatic rifle.
- A .22-calibre bolt-action rifle.
- A Winchester 1200 shotgun.
- A Lakefield Mark 2 .22-calibre rifle.
- A Winchester 1894 rifle.
- Ruger Blackhawk .45-calibre handgun.
2 guns in bedroom
During Stanley's murder trial, the RCMP officer in charge of the crime scene, Cpl. Terry Heroux, testified the RCMP found 12 guns, including the Tokarev and at least one pellet gun, on the Stanley property. (That list does not include the rifle found by Boushie's body.)
The RCMP took photos of the guns mentioned by Heroux. The photos were submitted as court exhibits for the trial.
One rifle was found in the same shop where Stanley testified he retrieved his Tokarev before moving toward the SUV where Boushie was shot.
A rifle and a shotgun were found lying beside a bed in a ground-floor bedroom in the farmhouse.
Seven other guns, including long guns hanging on wall-mounted racks, were found in a basement office that also housed a desk, computer, family photos, books and DVDs.
It's not known which of the 12 guns documented by Heroux are covered by the improper storage charges.
"Non-restricted firearms have to be stored according to the regulations," said Solomon Friedman, an Ottawa-based defence lawyer focusing on firearms law.
"The regulations require that they either be stored in a container or a room that's not easy to break into. Or they could be secured by a secure locking device [that] makes it impossible to fire the bullets."
Exceptions are allowed if the guns are being moved, cleaned or about to be used for shooting practice, Friedman added.
"Then they don't have to be locked up in any of those ways," he said.
Stanley, when asked during the trial why he kept guns in his shop, testified that he and his son Sheldon liked to shoot at targets during evenings.
Stanley testified they were going to do just that after putting up the fence they were installing on Aug. 9, 2016 — before the SUV containing Boushie and four others arrived at the property.
"In my experience," said Friedman, "somebody living in a rural property, who's otherwise licensed but they haven't complied with the letter of the law when it comes to storage, they tend to be looking at non-jail sentences, anywhere from a discharge to a suspended sentence, maybe a fine.
"I wouldn't be surprised if this was resolved by a plea agreement with the Crown."