EDMONTON — A man on trial for killing two Métis hunters testified he cut up his gun, threw it in a dump and lied to police about his involvement in the shooting out of fear of going to jail for protecting himself and his family.
Anthony Bilodeau, 33, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Jacob Sansom, 39, and Maurice Cardinal, 57, northeast of Edmonton.
Bilodeau's father, Roger Bilodeau, has also pleaded not guilty to the same charges.
A jury has heard that Sansom was shot once in the chest and Cardinal was shot three times in his shoulder. Their bodies were found the next day on the side of a rural road near Glendon, Alta.
Crown prosecutors have argued that the killings were in no way justified. They said security footage shows Anthony Bilodeau shot Sansom within 26 seconds of arriving at the scene, then shot Cardinal as the hunter was walking away.
The trial has heard a recorded interview between an RCMP officer and Anthony Bilodeau on March 31, 2020 — four days after the shooting.
In the recording, Bilodeau tells Sgt. Christian Reister that he did not shoot the hunters and didn't know anything about their deaths.
Brian Beresh, Bilodeau's lawyer, asked him Wednesday why he lied to police and got rid of the gun.
"I was afraid. I didn’t know the laws of self-defence," Bilodeau said.
"I was afraid of going to jail for protecting my family."
Bilodeau testified that he had been exhausted, working as a heavy-duty mechanic and waking up most nights for almost a month to help with calving at his farm.
He said he got a call from his father and younger brother, Joseph Bilodeau, the night of March 27, 2020. They said they were following a pickup truck that had stopped at the mouth of the driveway to their property before speeding off.
Joseph Bilodeau, who is now 18 and was not charged in the case, testified last week that he had also seen a blue Chevrolet pickup on his parents’ farm earlier in the day and suspected the one they were following, a white Dodge truck, had something to do with it.
Anthony Bilodeau, who lived nearby, said he was asked to bring a gun for protection and catch up with his father and brother. But he said he had no intention of using the gun.
Bilodeau said his father told him over the phone: "We caught them, you gotta get over here."
He testified that he asked his father what he was talking about. “That’s when (Roger Bilodeau) said, ‘We caught the thieves, they came back. You gotta get over here.’”
Bilodeau and his younger brother have both testified that there had been an increase in thefts in the Glendon area, though their homes had not been hit.
He told the trial, however, that $15,000 worth of tools had been stolen from his father's truck repair shop a couple years before and police didn't respond. Bilodeau said he went to the police station to report the theft.
Bilodeau testified that before getting in his truck to meet his father and brother, he got a gun and some ammunition from his safe.
"I believed these guys were armed, that they had guns and were going to use them," Bilodeau said.
Bilodeau said he was still on the line with his father and brother when their truck pulled up next to the pickup they were following.
He said he heard his father ask the people in the other truck what they were doing in his yard. Then there were several pounding sounds and the crack of a window.
Court has heard that one of the hunters allegedly punched and broke the passenger window of the Roger Bilodeau's Ford F-150.
“At that point, I knew I had to get there because I knew they were in trouble and I had to help,” Anthony Bilodeau testified.
He said he heard his younger brother scream at someone to get off him and to leave him alone. Bilodeau said he then heard someone tell someone else to grab a knife to kill them.
Bilodeau said he began to worry that he would not make it in time to save his father and brother. "I was devastated ... I was wiping tears on the way there."
When he pulled up to where his father’s vehicle was stopped beside a Dodge pickup, Bilodeau said he saw a man choking his father.
He said he loaded his gun, got out and said, "Hey, that's enough."
Bilodeau said the man choking his father charged toward him while shouting at another man to grab a gun so they could kill him.
He said he shot that man while the other was also coming at him with “a very large firearm,” which he held across his chest.
Bilodeau said his gun was jammed, so he ran into a ditch before he could unjam it and shoot the second man, who was then pointing a gun at him.
Bilodeau said he shot him twice more after the man repeated that he was going to kill him.
Bilodeau said he and his father and brother then went home.
The trial is expected to continue Thursday with cross-examination of Bilodeau by Crown prosecutors.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.
Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press