An Alberta man accused of killing two Métis hunters had no choice but to shoot the men to protect himself, his father and younger brother, his lawyer told a jury during his opening statement.
Anthony Bilodeau, 33, and his father, Roger Bilodeau, 58, face two counts each of second-degree murder. They have both pleaded not guilty.
The two were charged after Jacob Sansom, 39, and his uncle Maurice Cardinal, 57, were found dead at the side of a rural road near Glendon, Alta., about 215 kilometers northeast of Edmonton, on March 28, 2020.
Sansom was shot once in the chest and Cardinal was hit three times in his shoulder.
“There was probably an angel looking down on him,” Brian Beresh said Tuesday of his client, Anthony Bilodeau.
“And it takes the form of the CNRL video,” he added, referring to security video footage from a gas station that shows the confrontation between the two sides the night before the bodies were found.
Beresh said Anthony Bilodeau got a call from his father and younger brother, Joseph Bilodeau, saying they were following a pickup truck that had stopped at the driveway of 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 truck on his parents’ farm earlier in the day and suspected the one they were following had something to do with it.
Beresh said Anthony Bilodeau, who lived nearby, was asked to bring a gun for protection and catch up with his father and brother. He was still on the phone with them a short time later when the truck with his father and brother and the other truck stopped on the side of the road.
A man from the other truck punched in the passenger window of Roger Bilodeau’s Ford F-150 and then tried to pull him out, along with Joseph Bilodeau, Beresh said.
“Things changed very quickly when during the call, he heard the shattering of glass and then his brother Joseph scream, ‘Don’t kill my dad! Don’t hurt my dad!” Beresh told the jury.
“When he arrived at the scene, to his horror, he could see a man who appeared to be strangling or fighting with his father, who was still partially in the truck.”
Joseph Bilodeau has testified that he managed to get himself into the back seat of his father’s truck by the time his brother arrived.
Beresh said one of the first things Anthony Bilodeau did when he got there was to tell the men to stop fighting.
“Despite his attempt to de-escalate the situation, things got worse,” Beresh said.
The man who had pinned his father down in the truck then charged at Anthony Bilodeau while shouting to another man to grab a gun so they could kill him, Beresh said.
“In that short period of time, which the video confirms, Anthony had no choice,” his lawyer said. “He responded to protect himself and his father.”
Last week, Crown prosecutors argued that the killings were in no way justified, as the security footage also shows Anthony Bilodeau shot Sansom within 26 seconds of arriving at the scene, then shot Cardinal as the hunter was walking away.
Joseph Bilodeau also testified that he feared for his life during the confrontation with the two men, but he didn’t have any conversations with his brother and father about calling police.
Anthony Bilodeau is expected to take the witness stand Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022.