Saskatchewan’s public prosecutions office has decided not to appeal the Gerald Stanley verdict.
An appeal wouldn’t be able to overturn the jury’s not guilty decision, but it could look at the instructions the jury received from the judge.
The province’s top prosecutor, Anthony Gerein, said Wednesday there has to be a mistake of the law for an appeal, and none could be found in this case.
“Certainly the instructions to the jury are a focus, but evidentiary rulings, procedural matters and so on all play into it,” Gerein said.
Stanley was found not guilty of second-degree murder last month in the death of Colten Boushie nearly two years ago.
Boushie, 22, was shot dead after he and four friends drove onto Stanley’s farm near Biggar on Aug. 9, 2016.
Gerein took the unusual step of reminding people of the role the judge, lawyers and jury play in a trial like this, and the importance of knowing there is no agenda in the rule of law.
“We want people to have faith in the justice system and to explain it to them strikes me as a fundamental way to achieve that,” he said.
“If you disagree with the law, debates about how the law ought to be, need to happen outside the criminal courts.”
Neither Boushie’s nor Stanley’s family was consulted in the decision.
“Public prosecutions does not consult with people where it is a legal decision, otherwise there’s the perception that somehow people can influence what needs to be a decision based on the rule of law,” Gerein said.
Boushie’s uncle, Alvin Baptiste, said he wasn’t surprised by the decision.
“I knew right away what was going to happen,” he said. “Once again we’re being denied justice.”
Echoing messages from his family in the days after the shooting, Baptiste said there was little hope felt by Indigenous people toward the justice system.
“They say to have faith in the system. We have no faith,” he said.
Baptiste added if there wasn’t grounds for appeal under current laws, it may be time for new rules.
“They never change the law. It’s still colonialism laws that are still in Saskatchewan,” he said.
Baptiste said the family is disappointed in the continuing legal process, adding the fight for justice will continue.
“I can’t rest, we got to keep going,” Baptiste said. “How I look at it is the future of Indigenous children … We have to continue on.”
During the trial, Stanley testified he fired warning shots into the air to scare off the intruder, pulling the trigger “three or four times,” but only two shots went off.
He said when he moved to turn off the vehicle Boushie was in, a struggle ensued and the gun accidentally discharged without a trigger pull.
“Boom, it just went off,” he told court.
Stanley’s lawyer, Scott Spencer, presented evidence theorizing the gun experienced a hang fire — when a bullet is delayed from discharging after a trigger pull.
—With files from 650 CKOM’s Chris Vandenbreekel.