The Alberta Court of Appeal has overturned a controversial acquittal of an Ontario trucker charged with killing an Indigenous woman in an Edmonton motel room.
In 2015, a jury found Bradley Barton not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old sex trade worker who was found dead in a bathtub in an Edmonton motel room in 2011.
There was anger from coast to coast in 2015 when an Edmonton jury found Barton not guilty in Gladue’s death.
Support rallies were staged and more than 4,500 people signed a petition asking Alberta’s justice minister to appeal the jury’s verdict.
In a submission to the appeal court in September last year, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund criticized the way the trial was conducted. The brief said Gladue was consistently dehumanized and stereotyped.
In a decision released Friday the court overturned the not-guilty ruling and ordered a new trial.
Barton was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Gladue, who was found dead in the bathroom in Barton’s hotel room at the Yellowhead Inn in June 2011.
Gladue died from blood loss from a perforation more than 11 centimetres long that went completely through her vaginal wall.
Appeal court found errors of law
The Crown’s theory was that Gladue was incapacitated by alcohol when Barton used a sharp object to cut her vaginal wall, then moved to the bathtub when she began bleeding heavily.
The defence contended that while Barton caused Gladue’s fatal injury, it was a non-culpable act of homicide. Barton testified the injury was an “accident” from consensual sexual activity.
The Court of Appeal found errors of law in the trial and in the jury charge that were “serious in scope and significant in impact.”
The errors included erroneous instructions on what use the jury could make of Barton’s conduct after the fact, and failing to instruct the jury properly on the law of sexual assault relating to consent.
“These errors of law negatively compromised the jury’s ability to properly assess the evidence and apply the law correctly,” the court of appeal says in its decision.