EDMONTON — A 16-year-old who witnessed his brother shoot and kill two Métis hunters said he was getting nervous as him and his father pursued the two men down a Glendon-area road in their pick-up truck.
On Friday, the Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench heard testimony from Joseph Bilodeau, who was 16 years old when he witnessed an event that led to his father, Roger Bilodeau, 58, and brother Anthony Bilodeau, 33, being charged with second-degree murder.
Defence counsel in the case claim the two men were acting in self-defence in the deaths of Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal in an event that happened near Glendon on March 27, 2020.
The event left the Bilodeau son who witnessed the shooting, traumatized, heard the court.
“I just want to forget about this. I want to forget this ever happened,” Joseph Bilodeau told RCMP days after the shooting.
Joseph Bilodeau, who is now 19, testified that earlier in the day on March 27, 2020, the family was feeling nervous after an unfamiliar vehicle pulled near their property around 10:30 a.m. that day.
Later in the evening, Joseph Bilodeau was at home with his mom, sister and father, between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. when a vehicle partly pulled into their driveway.
Joseph Bilodeau said the vehicle stayed there for “under a minute” before pulling away and driving south away from the house. The son and his father decided the vehicle was suspicious and jumped in his father’s truck to follow the vehicle.
The truck had at least a minute head start, Joseph Bilodeau said, however the father and son caught up. The elder Bilodeau was driving the truck.
The son said he was starting to get nervous as they approached the truck “because of the way the vehicle was headed, like aggressively.”
The Métis hunters’ truck stopped and changed directions, and the Bilodeau’s truck turned around to follow.
Joseph Bilodeau said at that time, he could see the other driver’s face which made him more nervous than before.
“It seemed like it escalated a lot faster,” Joseph Bilodeau said.
“From the turnaround the aggression from the driver's face looked as if in anger.”
When Joseph Bilodeau saw the truck, he knew it was a different one than the blue vehicle that had stopped near their property that morning.
The duo called Joseph Bilodeau’s older brother, Anthony Bilodeau, at that point, asking him to come for backup.
“(Roger Bilodeau) told Anthony to bring a gun for self-protection,” Joseph Bilodeau said.
Joseph Bilodeau and his father caught up to the other men again when their vehicle came to a complete stop at an intersection and Roger Bilodeau pulled their vehicle up next to it.
“As we approached we rolled our window down, as the driver was stepping out of his vehicle, and simply asked what they were doing in our yard,” Joseph Bilodeau said.
Next, one of the hunters got out of the vehicle and started walking toward the Bilodeau vehicle, the son said, and the father then reversed the vehicle into the ditch.
The man followed and started banging on the passenger side door of the Bilodeau’s vehicle, breaking but not completely smashing the passenger side window, the son said. The man then opened the door and tried to get Joseph Bilodeau out of the vehicle while the 16-year-old was climbing on the front console and trying to escape to the back seat.
Joseph Bilodeau kicked the man with his cowboy boot to fight him off.
“Then, Joe started kicking him, and then the other guy came on my side and opened my door because I didn’t have it locked,” Roger Bilodeau told RCMP days after the shooting.
The other man came to the driver's side of the vehicle, Roger Bilodeau said, tearing his shirt and he heard him say, “Get a knife, let’s kill both these sons of bitches.”
Court heard that Anthony arrived shortly after and heard the men running towards him saying, “I’m going to kill you.”
The next memory the youngest son has is of one of the hunters laying on the ground.
Joseph Bilodeau said he then saw the second man get a gun from his truck and point it at his brother.
“As the man pointed… his gun at Anthony, Anthony proceeded to move beside our vehicle as the older man moved to the back of his vehicle. And then I heard the second shot fire,” Joseph Bilodeau
The youngest Bilodeau then hopped out of the backseat and onto the road where the three Bilodeaus decided they should leave the scene.
Roger Bilodeau said he told Anthony they should call the RCMP, but Anthony wanted to “not do anything.”
“Neither one of us knew what to do,” said Bilodeau, admitting the decision made matters worse. “We just made a bad judgment call — should have phoned right off the hop… it’d have been a lot less than what it is now.”
The trio then went back to Anthony’s house. None of the men suffered any physical injuries, and Roger Bilodeau had a ripped shirt.
Joseph Bilodeau later told RCMP the situation was something he should never have had to deal with it.
“That image stays in your head for the rest of your life. Like when I looked out the window, and I saw a guy dead there. It was hard. I literally had to fight for my life and fight for my dad's life. And if it wasn't for (Anthony) that that came we would have been dead there.”
After the incident Roger Bilodeau confessed to being involved in the deaths of two Métis hunters, just hours after he claimed to be innocent, according to RCMP interviews played in an Edmonton courtroom Thursday and Friday.
Court heard that Bilodeau was first interviewed by police on March 31, 2020, where he claimed to be innocent.
But just hours after that interview, the jury heard Bilodeau went back to Bonnyville RCMP detachment to give more details on what happened the night Jacob Sansom, 39, and Maurice Cardinal, 57, were killed.
During his first statement to RCMP when police came to his property in their initial investigation, Bilodeau claimed he didn’t know much about the deaths of Sansom and Cardinal, but added his 16-year-old son, Joseph, had seen a blue vehicle in their yard around 10:30 a.m. on March 27, 2020. Bilodeau said he hadn’t heard anything on the night the hunters were shot, and when shown a picture of the two victims, he claimed he had never seen them before.
Then 10 minutes later, while the RCMP vehicle was still on his property, Bilodeau asked the officer into the family garage to give a completely different version of events. He went to the RCMP detachment in Bonnyville three hours later to give a formal statement to Sgt. Christian Reister on camera, confessing to his involvement in the deaths.
Roger Bilodeau’s testimony claimed that rural residents are scared when people are driving up and down their roads.
"They’re all armed and they’re all dangerous, and we’re not supposed to do anything,” Bilodeau said. “That’s our new norm."
Following the shooting, the three Bilodeaus went home and didn’t call the police until the next day, after Bilodeau’s wife urged him to.
The 10-day trial into the shooting deaths of Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal will continue this week.