Greg Fertuck murder trial delayed again after accused asks to question girlfriend, gun expert

·3 min read
Police began laying the groundwork for the sting on Greg Fertuck a year in advance. (Greg Fertuck/Facebook - image credit)
Police began laying the groundwork for the sting on Greg Fertuck a year in advance. (Greg Fertuck/Facebook - image credit)

A man accused of killing his wife wants the court to call his former girlfriend and a gun expert back to the trial so he can personally question them about their testimony.

Greg Fertuck has been on trial for first-degree murder since September 2021, charged in the death of Sheree Fertuck.

An important trial decision from the judge was supposed to be released on Friday, but that decision was postponed because of Fertuck's latest request.

The Crown witnesses Fertuck wants to call back were already cross-examined, but by Fertuck's former legal team.

His lawyers withdrew from the case months ago after Fertuck filed formal complaints against them to the provincial regulatory body. He chose to represent himself at the complex trial after their departure.

Justice Richard Danyliuk is presiding over the trial at Saskatoon's Court of King's Bench.

At a hearing on Friday, Fertuck said his questions to the witnesses would cover ground that his former lawyers didn't — casting doubt on their evidence.

The delay caused by this application is the latest hiccup at the trial, which has been set back numerous times because of the pandemic, the discovery of new evidence and procedural issues.

It's a complicated case. Fertuck was arrested in 2019 after police targeted him in an elaborate, months-long undercover operation. Sheree's remains have never been found. Fertuck told undercover police that he killed her and explained how he did it, but now he claims he made that story up because he was afraid.

The Crown's evidence was presented in court during a series of voir dires — trials within the trial. That means the judge needs to decide if what Greg told police will be applied to his trial decision.

His decision on what will be considered admissible was set for Friday, but that was knocked back because of Fertuck's application to re-examine past witnesses.

Fertuck says his former lawyers didn't ask the right questions.

Danyliuk pointed out that lawyers are to use their judgment in the courtroom to determine what questions are relevant to the case and their strategy. They do not simply ask all questions put forward by their clients.

Fertuck insisted his questions will lead to important revelations.

The first witness he wants to recall is a gun expert. Fertuck told undercover police he shot Sheree twice with a Ruger 10/22 rifle at the rural gravel pit where she worked.

The Crown has submitted two shell casing found at the gravel pit and a Ruger 10/22 rifle as evidence at the trial.

Kenneth Chan, a ballistics expert, has already testified twice. He concluded that the shell casings found at the gravel pit were fired from the Ruger 10/22 found west of Saskatoon.

LISTEN | Sheree's disappearance and Greg's trial are the focus of a CBC investigative podcast called The Pit. Stream the latest episode now: 

Fertuck has suggested his questions to Chan will cast doubt on the gun and the shells being linked to him and Sheree's murder.

He also wants to question his former girlfriend Doris Larocque, who testified that Fertuck confessed to killing Sheree after coming home drunk one night. She said Greg told her not to tell anybody or she'd be next.

She was interviewed by police multiple times after that night, but didn't mention this until 2020.

On Friday at court, Fertuck claimed he never made that statement and suggested Larocque said he did because police "coerced and threatened" her.

Danyliuk reminded Fertuck multiple times that what Fertuck says in court isn't and won't be considered evidence. The evidence comes from the witnesses.

Carla Dewar, one of the Crown prosecutors on the case, said they were dismayed by this turn of events happening at this point in the trial, noting both witnesses were already thoroughly cross-examined.

Danyliuk said he heard the concerns about yet another delay loud and clear, but noted "there are no detours on the path to justice."

His decision on whether Fertuck will be allowed to personally cross-examine the witnesses is expected to come in about two weeks. Even if he allows Fertuck to recall the witnesses, there are no guarantees Fertuck will be able to ask them whatever he wants.