EDMONTON—The man who would shoot two Métis hunters dead at a dark intersection in rural Alberta was rushing to the scene when he heard over a phone call the smashing of a window and his younger brother screaming “don’t kill my dad,” a courtroom heard Wednesday.
Anthony Bilodeau, 33, and his father Roger Bilodeau, 58, are on trial for second-degree murder in the deaths of Jacob Sansom, 39, and Morris Cardinal, 57, on the night of March 27, 2020.
Anthony Bilodeau testified in his own defence in Edmonton on Wednesday.
Both he and Roger Bilodeau, who are being tried together by jury, have pleaded not guilty.
Anthony Bilodeau shot both Sansom and Cardinal that night. Defence lawyers say it was self-defence; Crown prosecutors contend that both Roger and Anthony Bilodeau set out with an intent to kill.
It was nearing 10 p.m. when Anthony Bilodeau got a phone call from his father, who was using Anthony’s brother’s phone. Joseph Bilodeau was 16 at the time and living with their father in Glendon, a farming village in eastern Alberta where Anthony also lived.
“When I answered the phone I just said, ‘Hello,’ and it was my dad’s voice and he says, ‘We caught them, you gotta get over here,’” Anthony Bilodeau testified under questioning from his lawyer, Brian Beresh.
Joseph and Roger Bilodeau had decided to pursue a Dodge truck — which Sansom and Cardinal were in — that they believed was connected to two trucks they’d seen hours earlier that day near Roger’s property. Rural crime was a concern at the time, court has heard from multiple witnesses, and Roger was suspicious of two trucks he’d seen earlier.
Roger Bilodeau told Anthony Bilodeau to bring a gun, because he wasn’t sure if the people he was pursuing in his Ford truck that night were armed, court heard. Anthony Bilodeau testified he brought the gun for safety but had “no intention to use it at that point at all.”
He jumped into his truck while he was still on the phone with his father and brother, who he believed were using the Bluetooth in the truck. He had ammunition in a cupholder in his own truck and his gun beside him, he testified.
Anthony Bilodeau drove north toward where he believed the chase was happening. Court heard previously that Roger Bilodeau’s truck reached speeds of 152 km/h while pursing Sansom’s truck.
As he drove toward them, Anthony Bilodeau said he heard his father ask, “What are you guys doing at my yard?” before Roger Bilodeau said to Joseph Bilodeau “look out.”
“I heard this — a smashing of a window,” testified Anthony Bilodeau.
Then he heard his brother screaming for someone to get off him and leave him alone, Anthony Bilodeau testified.
“It was at the top of his lungs,” he said. “It made the hair on your neck stand up. It was like, blood-curdling.”
He said he heard a “scuffle,” then an unidentified man’s voice saying, “Go get a knife so I can kill these f—ers.”
That’s when he heard his brother scream over and over, “Don’t kill my dad!”
“I was devastated,” he testified. “I was wiping tears on the way there. I didn’t think I was gonna make it.”
On his way, he said, he “believed I was going to get there, they were going to be dead.”
Roughly two minutes after leaving his own home, Anthony Bilodeau said, he arrived at the intersection of Range Road 484 and Township Road 622. He found his father’s truck in a ditch just in front of Sansom’s truck, which was parked on the road.
Crown lawyers are arguing that Roger Bilodeau had — just prior to his son’s arrival — tried to run over Sansom, who had been driving his truck before stopping at the intersection and walking over to Roger Bilodeau’s truck. The defence has said that wasn’t Roger Bilodeau’s intent.
A surveillance camera mounted on a Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. gas plant at the intersection captured what happened and has been previously seen by the court.
Anthony Bilodeau told his lawyer in court Wednesday that the scene he came upon was like “your worst nightmares are starting to come true all at once.” On the surveillance video, Anthony Bilodeau’s truck can be seen pulling up just behind Sansom’s.
A man had his hands around his father’s neck, he told the court. Roger Bilodeau looked pinned up against the steering wheel by the man, he added.
“I was very afraid,” Anthony Bilodeau testified.
Then, he loaded his gun, got out of the vehicle and said, “Hey, that’s enough,” to the men near his father’s truck.
That’s when he heard one of the men tell the other: “Go get my gun, let’s kill this motherf- – – er,” he testified.
A man got out of the truck, appearing to be holding a “very large firearm,” Anthony Bilodeau told the court.
The other man started coming toward him, and Anthony Bilodeau said he was told by the man that “he was going to kill me.” Anthony Bilodeau also said that he believed the man was going to try and grab his gun from him.
In the surveillance footage, Anthony Bilodeau can be seen shooting the man — later identified as Sansom — in the chest. Then, his gun jammed, he said, so he ran across the road, away from the man with the gun.
Anthony Bilodeau testified he said, several times that night, “We just want to talk,” including after he ran across the road.
The man with the gun’s response was, “I’ll kill you, you son of a b—-,” Anthony Bilodeau testified. This would later be identified as Cardinal, who was standing near Sansom’s truck after Sansom had been shot.
Then, he said, the man appeared to start aiming his gun at Anthony Bilodeau, and so he shot at the man. Anthony Bilodeau reloaded and then ran over to the man and shot him twice, “one right after the other,” he testified.
“I believed he wasn’t gonna stop,” he said.
Anthony Bilodeau, his brother and his father did not call the police after they left the scene that night. Anthony Bilodeau testified that he then took some lights off his truck and cut up the gun he used into pieces because he was “afraid” that he’d go to jail for “protecting my family.”
“It was terrifying, like, you can’t imagine something like that happening,” he told the court. “It’s the worst thing that I’ve ever felt. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever gone through.”
The Crown prosecutors will cross-examine Bilodeau on Thursday.
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