Greg Fertuck told an undercover police officer that his dead wife Sheree's final resting place was a bluff of trees off a "hunting highway," not far from the gravel pit where he shot her, according to testimony heard Friday at Fertuck's trial for first-degree murder.
Fertuck gave directions while trying to lead three undercover officers to the place where he said that he had dumped Sheree's body, the officer testified.
"Leave the gravel pit and turn right. Go past two sloughs and turn left. Take the 'hunting highway' [an unmarked crossroad] and cut across the field," Fertruck told undercover police in June 2019, according to the officer's testimony.
Fertuck is now accused of murder in the death of Sheree, his estranged wife. She disappeared on Dec. 7, 2015, after heading to work at a gravel pit near Kenaston, Sask. Greg Fertuck was charged with first-degree murder in her death in June 2019. He has pleaded not guilty.
Greg told undercover police officers, who had targeted him in a so-called "Mr. Big" sting, that he had shot and killed her at the gravel pit the day she was last seen, his trial at Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon has heard.
A Mr. Big sting is an RCMP technique where police pose as criminals to get a suspect to disclose what happened to a victim.
None of the undercover officers involved in the sting focused on Fertuck can be named because of a court-ordered publication ban.
'I didn't drag her in too far'
According to the testimony heard Friday, Greg and three undercover officers, who he believed were criminal cronies who would help him clean up evidence, endured heavy rain, thick brush and wood ticks over two days in June 2019 as they searched for Sheree's body.
Greg was was looking for two particular bluffs of trees alongside a grid road that he had used as a reference marker, the undercover officer who testified Friday said. Fertuck knew the area south of Saskatoon well because that's where he hunted deer.
But the search that day was complicated by the soaked and muddy fields, which meant they had to detour past the unmarked crossroad in their black half-ton.
The officer testified that Greg said he used the first bluff for cover from the road "and that he drug her body to the north side, to the end. He said, 'I didn't drag her in too far.' Then he covered her with black poly and logs."
They never found her.
Defence focuses on head injury
Greg is seen on bodycam footage taken by one of the officers that day with a thick grey goatee, wearing glasses, a yellow ball cap, jeans and a white button-up rodeo shirt.
Defence lawyer Morris Bodnar cross-examined the officer Friday, focusing on the potential effects of a serious head injury suffered by Greg Fertuck six months prior to the trip to search for Sheree's body.
"He had hunted deer in that area. Even though he had hunted there, he couldn't find Sheree?" Bodnar said.
The officer, a self-described outdoorsman, said it's not uncommon for hunters to mark locations one day and then not be able to replicate the steps the very next day.
He noted that Greg allegedly shot Sheree in December of 2015 and that the search took place in June 2019 — not only years later, but also during a vastly different season, with different degrees of foliage and sightlines.
Bodnar repeatedly quizzed the officer about Greg's memory loss from a head injury and the possibility he had actually suffered a stroke.
The trial previously heard that Fertuck had slipped and cracked his head outside a Saskatoon bar on Jan. 1, 2019, and spent a month in hospital in the middle of the sting.
On Jan. 8, Greg's girlfriend told undercover officers he had fallen, the trial heard early last week.
The defence lawyer noted that when Greg was discovered on the floor of his girlfriend's home in Saskatoon, before he was taken to hospital, he had been there for three days. His face was extremely swollen and he was largely immobilized on his left side.
It took weeks for motion and mobility to return to his left side and he never did regain full strength in his left hand.
Bodnar also touched on Greg's frequent lying.
The officer said he didn't believe that Greg lied to him and he believed that Greg had recovered from his head injury by June. The officer said he had not seen any medical reports after Greg's discharge from hospital and could not say whether he'd had a stroke.
Bodnar gave the officer specific examples that suggested Greg had an impaired memory. The officer disagreed.
"You're not giving me an inch, are you?" Bodnar said at one point.
The officer smiled but did not not reply.
Admissibility of evidence to be determined
Friday's testimony concluded the fifth week of the judge-alone trial, which began Sept. 7 in front of Justice Richard Danyliuk. It has so far featured 43 Crown witnesses.
The witness testimony and evidence so far has been presented in a voir dire, or trial within a trial intended to determine the admissibility of evidence. At the end of the Crown's presentation, Justice Danyliuk must decide how much — if any — of the evidence presented so far is admissible.
The key will be whether police followed the guidelines set out by the Supreme Court on Mr. Big stings.
RCMP played out 136 structured interactions, known as scenarios, between the summer of 2018 and late spring of 2019 in the Greg Fertuck operation.
Various undercover operators revealed to Greg a criminal enterprise that featured loan sharking, corrupt border guards, stolen diamonds, vehicles and high-stakes poker games.
It culminated in Greg making his disclosure to an undercover officer on June 21, 2019, that he killed Sheree and then dumped her body, court has heard.
The cross-examination by defence lawyers Morris Bodnar and Mike Nolin of the three undercover officers who have testified so far has focused heavily on how well Fertuck recovered from his head injury.
Whether he was of an "operating mind" when police manouevered him into disclosing that he allegedly killed his wife is expected to play prominently in whether Justice Danyliuk admits the Mr. Big evidence.
The trial resumes Tuesday with the Crown calling the undercover officer who was viewed as Fertuck's primary contact during the operation.