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Alberta man Anthony Bilodeau, found guilty of killing Metis hunters, appeals conviction

Four years after shooting and killing two men on a rural road northeast of Edmonton, Anthony Bilodeau is appealing his conviction.

Bilodeau’s defence team spent Wednesday morning at the Edmonton Law Courts making three arguments, including that the original jury was not properly instructed.

In May 2023, that jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Maurice Cardinal and manslaughter in the death of Cardinal’s nephew Jacob Sansom.

Sansom and Cardinal had been hunting near Glendon in March 2020 to provide food for other families.

The Metis hunters stopped their vehicle on a rural road near the Bilodeau house and the family assumed the pair was going to rob them.

Roger chased the men down a rural road, calling Anthony to join and telling him to bring a gun.

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A fight started and when Anthony arrived, he shot and killed Sansom and Cardinal in what he argued was self-defence.

“People are like, ‘Isn’t it over yet? Aren’t you glad it’s over?’ ” Sansom’s widow Sarah said Wednesday about having to attend frequent court cases.

“What do you mean? It’s not over for us. It’s never over for us.”

“We don’t get to live our lives,” Sansom’s sister Gina Levasseur added.

“This is our lives now. Every time something happens with one of those men, we are pulled back in.

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“We are grieving again. We are hurt again. We are angry again.”

On Wednesday, Anthony’s lawyer argued the jury was not given clear instructions, including around the most recent self-defence guidance.

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Deborah Hatch said the jury was given contradictory instructions.

“Anthony is simply asking for a jury that is clearly instructed,” Hatch told a panel of three appeal judges.

Justice William de Wit said at one point, “You are not guaranteed a perfectly instructed jury.”

The Crown agreed that was a threshold that could not be reached.

Anthony watched the proceedings via CCTV wearing a blue t-shirt and remaining emotionless.

Hatch also questioned whether the jurors parsed out each gunshot one-by-one, deciding whether each was self-defence.

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Crown prosecutor Matthew Griener argued the trial judge repeatedly told the jury the threshold for self-defence.

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“It’s that idea that my brother and my uncle deserved to die and that they were justified in their murder,” Levasseur told media outside court.

“There is no justification for what they have done. None.”

Hatch argued the trial judge should have been more clear.

At one point, the trial judge told council that the instruction to the jury was “somewhat complex and overwhelming.” Hatch took issue with that statement.

Justice Alice Woolley argued that legal significance could not be put on rhetoric of council.

“That’s a dangerous game,” Wooley said.

Hatch’s associate Caitlin Dick said there was an issue with the exclusion of some expert testimony.

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The defence team had wanted to call an expert who trained people on responding to high-stress situations but Anthony did not receive that training.

Griener said the Crown rejected the expert on the basis of relevance.

Anthony’s appeal of his convictions comes six months after his father appealed his manslaughter convictions.

A decision has not been released.

“Every day you’re waking up, checking your emails, checking your messages like… is that decision back yet?” Sarah Sansom said.

Last week, a parole board granted Roger unescorted temporary absences to go to church and visit his family.

Sarah said the decision made healing harder.

“We don’t get the choice to see our family members again — why do they?”

Decisions on each of the Bilodeau’s appeals will be written and released but there is no timeline on when that will happen.

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