Trial date hangs on 'Mr. Big' evidence in Cassidy Bernard murder trial

·2 min read

A Supreme Court trial into the death of a 22-year-old We'koqma'q woman may last as long as eight weeks if lawyers on both sides of the matter fail to agree on submissions of evidence.

Dwight Austin Isadore is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Cassidy Bernard, the mother of his two children.

Speaking to a Port Hawkesbury, N.S., courtroom via video link last week, the 21-year-old Wagmatcook man denied involvement in Bernard's death.

"I still don't understand why you're trying to charge me," Isadore told Judge Robin Gogan. "When I left my woman, she was still alive."

Bernard's body was discovered in her home on Oct. 24, 2018. RCMP have yet to release a cause of death. Bernard was accompanied by her six-month-old babies, who family members described as severely dehydrated, but unharmed.

Isadore faces two additional charges of child endangerment in relation to his twin daughters.

He is now scheduled to appear before a Supreme Court judge and jury over an eight-week period starting in early 2022. His trial may be shortened if matters are ironed out at a pre-trial conference scheduled on Dec. 22.

Investigative technique used

Crown attorney Shane Russell told the court the case against Isadore involves a Mr. Big operation.

The investigative technique often sees an undercover officer working over a period of weeks or months to befriend a suspect.

In a typical Mr. Big scenario, police convince an accused to join their criminal gang. The suspect is eventually pressed into sharing their misdeeds to a crime lord (or Mr. Big) in order to gain acceptance.

Mr. Big is, of course, is an undercover officer. The suspect's confession is then used to launch a prosecution against them.

Russell said the evidence against Isadore involves a list of recordings that will require transcription.

"If the Crown was to present that evidence in detail of all the encounters and all of the recordings of those transactions, that would use up a lot of time," Russell said.

"But if that's not an issue, it's more straightforward and narrow."

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Russell said a timeframe for the trial will depend on agreements made with Isadore's lawyer.

"Do they want to address certain issues in a certain way or are there agreements that can be reached? And that's really up to him and his client."

At a news conference announcing Isadore's arrest in December 2019, members of the RCMP said specialized resources were dedicated to the case, but provided no further details.

About a month after her body was discovered, hundreds of people marched across the Canso Causeway in Bernard's memory, and for all other missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

The rally would eventually spark a series of Red Dress walks across Cape Breton.

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