Five men and seven women will decide the fate of Gerald Stanley in his second-degree murder trial, but some members of the victim’s family aren’t happy with how jury selection played out.
Stanley is accused of shooting and killing 22-year-old Colten Boushie on Aug. 9, 2016.
The man from Red Pheasant Cree Nation died on Stanley’s farm near Biggar after arriving with several friends in an SUV, with conflicting reports on why they were there.
The 12-person jury was selected in just over two hours Monday morning from a pool of more than 250 people at the Alex Dillabough Centre in Battleford.
The gym was converted into a makeshift courtroom, with Chief Justice Martel Popescul sitting on a raised podium in front of the crowd of potential jurors.
Crown lawyer Bill Burge and defence counsel Scott Spencer were given 14 challenges each to dismiss — without reason — those called on for jury duty.
Once selection was complete, 12 jurors and two alternates were sworn under oath.
The apparent makeup of the jury drew criticism from Boushie’s cousin, Jade Tootoosis.
“It was really difficult to sit there today and watch every single Indigenous person be challenged by the defence,” she told reporters.
“It’s not surprising, but extremely frustrating. And it’s something we feared has come true.”
Spencer declined comment on the challenge choices, saying his camp was focused on the “facts of the case.”
I caught the start of Jade Tootoosis' comments on video. Says family decided not to come to jury selection because they feel like the decision has already been made. #stanleytrial #sask pic.twitter.com/lxDCbrFClI
— Chris Vandenbreekel (@Vandecision) January 29, 2018
After a brief recess, Justice Popescul instructed the jury not to read media stories about the case or discuss it with anyone in person or on social media. He also explained the differences between circumstantial and direct evidence.
Like most Canadian jury trials, the 12 members won’t be sequestered until final deliberations.
Tootoosis was one of the few Boushie family members at the hall on Monday. She said many family members didn’t attend because they felt a decision had already been made.
“It’s only the first day and I’m already feeling a bit overwhelmed,” she said.
Differing from prior court appearances, no demonstrations were held outside the hall on a morning of temperatures below -20 C with windchill factors in the -30s.
The trial will resume Tuesday morning at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Battleford with opening arguments.
—With files from 980 CJME’s Kevin Martel.