A Saskatoon judge has ruled a videotaped confession that Greg Fertuck made to undercover police where he described killing his wife in 2015 can be admitted into evidence in his trial for first-degree murder.
Fertuck is shown on the June 21, 2019, recording acting out shooting Sheree Fertuck at a gravel pit near Kenaston, Sask., four years earlier.
Sheree Fertuck vanished on Dec. 7, 2015. The 51-year-old's body has never been found. Greg Fertuck was charged with first-degree murder in 2019.
His judge-alone trial began in September 2021 at what was then Court of Queen's Bench.
Since then, the Crown has presented its case in a voir dire, or trial within a trial. On Friday, Justice Richard Danyliuk ruled that admissions Fertuck made to undercover officers may be applied to the trial proper.
The Crown's case turned on admissions Fertuck made to RCMP officers who were pretending to be criminals as part of a so-called Mr. Big sting operation. Fertuck maintained at trial that he made up the story about killing his wife because he was afraid.
The trial went through numerous delays, including Fertuck deciding to represent himself after a falling out with his defence team in October 2022 and then applying successfully to re-examine witnesses that had already been questioned.
Fertuck also slipped on a patch of ice and suffered a serious head injury midway through the RCMP sting. That accident prompted officers to re-evaluate the merit of continuing.
Danyliuk's ruling hinged on 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 gradually revealed to Greg a fictional criminal enterprise that featured loan sharking, corrupt border guards, stolen diamonds, vehicles and high-stakes poker games.
LISTEN | Sheree's disappearance and Greg's trial are the focus of a CBC investigative podcast called The Pit. Stream the latest episode now:
It culminated in Greg making his disclosure to an undercover officer on June 21, 2019, that he killed Sheree and then dumped her body.
Fertuck's former lawyers cross-examined some of the undercover officers, focusing heavily on how well Fertuck recovered from his head injury. Whether he was of an "operating mind" when police manouevered him into the confession was expected to play prominently in Danyliuk's decision.
Trial not over yet
The Crown's case against Fertuck relies heavily on the evidence gathered in the undercover police operation.
"The evidence that was called and the law that has to be applied to it is an important area and obviously a significant test the Crown has to meet. So we are happy with the results and we look forward to the continuation of the trial," Crown prosecutor Carla Dewar said Friday.
The trial is not over yet, Dewar said, and now the Crown will determine whether any further evidence is needed.
"Everything that has been heard so far now will go in as evidence against Mr. Fertuck without having to call that evidence all over again," Dewar said. "As well, Mr. Fertuck will have to decide whether he's going to call any evidence on his own behalf. So that will be the rest of the continuation of the trial."
Dewar said she hopes there will not be any further delays and things will go back on track.
"The Crown is obviously happy about the decision that was made today."