By Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Three people charged in connection with the murder of Edmonton resident Tiki Laverdiere, 25, made brief court appearances in North Battleford Provincial Court Feb. 21 via CCTV.
Numerous weapons charges against Brent Checkosis were dropped by the Crown. The charges, stemming from other incidents, include three counts of possession of a weapon for dangerous purpose, three counts of carrying a concealed weapon, unauthorized possession of a weapon, careless use of a firearm, failing to comply with conditions and failing to appear in court.
In December 2019 Checkosis pleaded guilty to accessory to murder in Laverdiere’s death. The judge reserved sentencing until March 25 in Battleford Court of Queen’s Bench.
Checkosis hasn’t entered any pleas for the charges of improper interference with a human body and theft of a vehicle.
The matters against Nikita Cook and Nicole Cook for their part in Laverdiere’s murder were adjourned until March 20.
Nicole Cook is from Edmonton and is the mother of Tristen Cook-Buckle, 20, whose funeral Laverdiere travelled to North Battleford to attend on April 27, 2019. Cook-Buckle’s body was found burned in a vehicle near Vegreville, Alta. on April 5, 2019.
On April 5, 2019, at about 2:45 a.m. Edmonton Police responded to a call near 92nd St. and 110th Ave. and found blood on the ground behind the house, which DNA later showed was Cook-Buckle’s blood. Hours after Edmonton Police found blood behind the house, Vegreville RCMP discovered a body in a burned out vehicle, which was later identified as Cook-Buckle. An autopsy revealed Cook-Buckle’s death was homicide but police haven’t released the cause of death.
Laverdiere left Edmonton and attended Cook-Buckle’s funeral on April 27, 2019, on Thunderchild First Nation. She was last heard from on May 1 when she texted her family from North Battleford saying she wanted to return home to Edmonton.
Laverdiere was reported missing on May 12, 2019, to Battlefords RCMP and on May 17, 2019, police called her disappearance suspicious. On June 10, 2019, the Saskatchewan RCMP Major Crime Unit North, with the assistance of the North Battleford and Prince Albert Forensic Identification Sections and an analyst from the RCMP Forensic Laboratory in Edmonton, determined Laverdiere’s disappearance was the result of foul play. Over several days, police executed search warrants in a number of locations in North Battleford.
On June 12, 2019, RCMP found human remains in a rural area near North Battleford. A July 16, 2019, autopsy confirmed that the human remains were that of Tiki Brook-Lyn Laverdiere.
Timeline of arrests
From July 20 to Aug. 15 police arrested eight people in North Battleford and Edmonton for the murder of Laverdiere.
• July 20, 2019, RCMP arrested Shayla Orthner, 27, of North Battleford and charged her with first degree murder, kidnapping, improperly interfering with a human body and theft of a vehicle.
• July 23, 2019, RCMP arrested Danita Thomas, 32, of North Battleford and charged her with first degree murder, kidnapping, improperly interfering with a human body and theft of a vehicle.
• July 25, 2019, RCMP arrested Brent Checkosis, 18, of North Battleford and charged him with accessory after the fact to murder, improperly interfering with a human body and theft of a vehicle.
• July 28, 2019, police arrest Jesse Sangster, 23, of Edmonton and charge him with accessory after the fact to murder and theft of a vehicle. His charges were upgraded on Aug. 30 to first-degree murder, kidnapping and improperly interfering with a human body. The charge of accessory after the fact to murder was withdrawn.
• July 31, 2019, police arrest Nicole Cook, 36, of Edmonton and charge her with first degree murder, kidnapping, improperly interfering with a human body and theft of a vehicle.
• Aug. 6, 2019, RCMP arrested Soaring Eagle Whitstone, 33, of Onion Lake Cree Nation and charge her with first degree murder, kidnapping, improperly interfering with a human body and theft of a vehicle.
• Aug. 9, 2019, police issue a Canada-wide arrest warrant for Nikita Sandra Cook, 31, of Onion Lake Cree Nation. She is charged with first degree murder and kidnapping.
• Aug. 15, 2019, Nikita Cook is arrested in Edmonton.
• Aug. 15, 2019, RCMP arrest Mavis Quinn Takakenew, 55, of North Battleford, and charge her with accessory after the fact to murder.
On Aug. 22, 2019, Brent Checkosis, 18, was stabbed at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. On Feb. 12, 2020, Jesse Edward Philip McKenzie, 22, and Kihiw Jason George Fourstar, 19, pleaded guilty in Saskatoon provincial court to aggravated assault and possession of a homemade knife for a dangerous purpose. McKenzie and Fourstar were charged after Checkosis was found by prison staff on Aug. 23, 2019. The stabbing happened in a high-security gang range of the correctional centre.
On Dec. 20, 2019, Checkosis pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder, interfering with a human body and theft of a vehicle.
On Jan. 2, 2020, a trial for Nikita Cook was set for January 2021.
On Feb. 11, 2020, Takakenew pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder.
The court has imposed a publication ban on sentencing hearings for Checkosis and Takakenew until the trials of the six remaining co-accused are finished.