An Alberta man was sentenced on Friday to life in prison without parole eligibility for 13 years in the second-degree murder of Métis hunter Maurice Cardinal.
Anthony Bilodeau was also sentenced to eight years for the manslaughter death of Jacob Sansom. Both sentences will be administered concurrently.
Court of King’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin gave the 34-year old 33 months credit for time served.
While noting that Anthony’s prospect of rehabilitation is high, Macklin said the sentence needed to reflect the tragic consequences of the crime.
“Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal were also pillars of their communities,” the judge said. “They were teachers and hunters for their families, as well as their communities.”
The small Edmonton courtroom was packed with family and supporters of both the two victims and the convicted killer, and a group of supporters of Sansom, 39, and Cardinal, 57, waited outside the courthouse as well.
The victims’ supporters held each other and wept when the sentence was read out. Although the family was outspoken throughout court proceedings, they stated that they need to take time to process the sentence.
“All the days since that day have been really tough for this family and this community and no amount of justice will ever ease their pain or bring the boys back,” said Andrea Sandmaier, president for Region 2 of the Métis Nation of Alberta, speaking outside the courthouse.
Roger Bilodeau, Anthony’s father was sentenced to 10 years last year for his manslaughter convictions during the March 2020 shooting deaths.
Father and son were found guilty in May of the deaths Sansom and Cardinal. They were killed after a short pursuit.
During the trial, Roger was identified as the original pursuer of the hunters. However, Roger’s son, whom he called to assist, was the one who killed both victims.
The Crown had earlier told the court that the murders were the result of the Bilodeaus attempting to take the law into their hands, and Sansom was and Cardinal had not done anything wrong.
Court heard previously that Sansom had spent March 27, 2020, moose hunting and then socializing with their friends.
An automatic life sentence is imposed on anyone convicted of second-degree murder. Jordan Kerr, the prosecutor, argued that Anthony shouldn’t be eligible for parole for more than 15 years.
Crown claims aggravating factors
Kerr asked the judge for a 12-to-15-year sentence for the manslaughter conviction. Kerr described the crime as “near murder”, given that Anthony shot Sansom in his chest with a high powered rifle just moments after arriving at the scene.
Kerr pointed out a variety of aggravating factors. He shot Cardinal multiple times and disposed of his gun. He also stated that the victims were left on the road by the victim after he shot them. Kerr also said that his father and Anthony were trying to take the law into their own hands.
Kerr claimed that Anthony’s actions were a desecration of the life and well being of the deceased.
The trial heard that on March 27, 2020, when Roger saw truck lights in his yard on a rural property outside of the village of Glendon in northern Alberta, he and his 16-year-old son jumped into his truck to give chase. He said that he believed the truck’s occupants were thieves.
During the pursuit, Anthony called his father and asked him to bring a gun.
Anthony shot Sansom in his chest seconds after arriving on the scene. He then shot Cardinal three more times in the back.
Defence: Client is of good character
Brian Beresh, a defence lawyer, argued that the Crown’s proposal wasn’t too harsh given evidence of his client’s character and prospects of rehabilitation.
He claimed that Anthony should get four year parole eligibility for the manslaughter conviction.
Beresh said that his client was not acting out of malice. He was loyal to his father who asked for his help.
Beresh stated to media that Anthony plans to appeal after the sentence was handed down. He stated that Anthony believes in the justice system.
Beresh stated, “It’s fair that he’s disappointed, but he has always been very calm throughout the process.”
Roger, who was sentenced in August, received credit for 4½ years time already served.
The judge described the crime of the older Bilodeau as the murder of two innocent men when he sentenced him.
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