(ANNews) – One of two men convicted of killing Métis hunters Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal in Glendon, Alta., has been granted temporary unsupervised leave from prison for up to 72 hours a month, despite vocal objections from the victims’ family.

Otipemisiwak Métis Government president Andrea Sandmaier said in a statement that this decision demonstrates “complete disregard for the gravity of the loss suffered by their loved ones and our community.”

The Parole Board of Canada granted Roger Bilodeau unescorted temporary absences for the purposes of “personal development and family contact” on Feb. 21. According to reporting from APTN News, Bilodeau had already been permitted escorted absences from prison. 

Jacob Sansom’s mother Ruby Smith characterized the board’s ruling as “an injustice, a kick to the heart” in an interview with APTN. 

“He had a part in taking my sons and brother’s life. He is free, my son and brother are dead.”

Sansom’s wife, Sarah, told APTN she was “pretty upset with the justice system and how they really don’t take victims’ feelings into account.” 

The board’s decision recognized “that the victim’s family has requested you not be granted any form of early or unescorted release and have stated that doing so would lead to further trauma experienced by the family, who continue to wrestle with their loss and the perceived lack of accountability taken by you.” 

Sandmaier said the Métis governing body shares the family’s “frustration and anger, not just as a government but as a community that values justice, accountability, and the well-being of its citizens.”

“We are committed to supporting the families through these trying times and we will continue advocating for a justice system that reflects the values of fairness, compassion, and respect for all victims and their families,” she added.

The RCMP also expressed its “strong opposition” to allowing Roger Bilodeau temporary unsupervised release at the parole hearing. 

“[S]hould the public become aware of the release and potential unsupervised visits, it would show the community and all neighbouring communities of the injustice for the two victims. Further, it would create a greater divide within the area that is unnecessary and frankly display the holes in the justice system,” a representative of the local detachment said in the parole documents obtained by APTN. 

However, the Parole Board of Canada ultimately ruled that Roger Bilodeau is at a low statistical risk of re-offending and that he has a good network of social support through his church. 

Roger Bilodeau, 59, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in August 2022 for manslaughter, but was given 4.5 years credit for time served pre-sentencing due to the overcrowded condition in jail during the Covid-19 pandemic.  His 34-year-old son, Anthony Bilodeau, was sentenced in January to 13 years in prison for second-degree murder without parole eligibility. Both convictions are being appealed. 

In March 2020, the father and son pursued Sansom and Cardinal for seven kilometres before shooting and leaving them on the side of the road to die. Roger and Anthony Bilodeau left the scene of the crime without calling the police or an ambulance — a “selfish” decision, Roger Bilodeau told the parole board.

Anthony Bilodeau destroyed the rifle he used to shoot Sansom and Cardinal and lied to investigators about owning a firearm of that calibre. 

Although their defence argued that Cardinal was also armed, the gun police found the next day in the backseat of Cardinal’s vehicle wasn’t loaded.

By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 03, 2024 at 08:45

This item reprinted with permission from   Alberta Native News   Edmonton, Alberta

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