Gerald Stanley found not guilty

Gerald Stanley has been found not guilty in connection to the shooting death of Colten Boushie from Aug. 9, 2016.

That is the verdict handed down in the trial that has taken place at Court of Queen’s Bench in Battleford.

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The seven women and five men on the jury had been deliberating since late Thursday afternoon, shortly after Chief Justice Martel Popescul issued his charge to the jury.

The jury had three possible verdict options: guilty of second degree murder, not guilty of murder but guilty of the lesser included offence of manslaughter, or not guilty. The verdict in the case was announced shortly after 7:30 pm Friday night.

There was an immediate reaction from the Boushie family in the court room. Immediately after the foreman said the words "not guilty", there were cries of "what?" That was followed by screams from Boushie's family and shouts of "you're a murderer".

"You murdered my son!" was the reaction from an emotional Debbie Baptiste, directed at Stanley.  

One man was heard to shout, "There is no f---ing justice, man!"

The court proceedings adjourned immediately upon the outburst of emotion from the gallery.  

Outside on the courthouse steps, Boushie family members and supporters shared their reaction as they called the verdict a miscarriage of justice.

“I’m pretty shocked at the verdict and my nephew has been denied justice,” said Colten Boushie’s uncle, Alvin Baptiste.

“How all First Nations are treated in the justice system is not right.  A white jury came out with a not guilty verdict of Gerald Stanley who shot and killed my nephew. This is how they treat us First Nations people. It is not right. The government, Justin Trudeau, we ask you to give us Indigenous people justice.”

Jade Tootoosis, cousin of Colten Boushie, says the family will fight for an appeal.

"This has been very difficult, but we will continue to seek out justice for Colten," she told reporters.

FSIN Vice-Chief Kim Jonathan said they "will be seeking an inquiry." She urged all First Nations watching to "remain calm and peaceful, because those truly are our teachings. We are all hurting, and we know what we face with the racism." 

Boushie family lawyer Chris Murphy was emotional on the steps of the courthouse. He and Jonathan said they would be taking the issue to Parliament Hill.

"We will be going to Parliament Hill this month to describe the systemic injustices that this case has revealed. But for now, I ask that you trust that Colten's family has legitimate reasons for these deeply held beliefs. There is a darkness that exists in this country. And I believe that we're going to have to feel our way out of it."

Crown prosecutor Bill Burge did not rule out any options going forward.

“We respect their verdict. We will take a look at their verdict and we will consider our position in the near future.”

Among the things they will look at is the charge to the jury, he indicated.

“We presented all of the evidence that implicated Mr. Stanley, that was our role. We were there to present the evidence and we didn’t leave anything out that would have made a difference. There was nothing more that could be done. We put it out there, the jury made a decision and that’s their duty.”

He noted there were few rulings to review in considering an appeal. It was a very straightforward case, said Burge.

There were no comments from the Stanley family. Gerald Stanley and his family were ushered out of the courthouse through a side exit prior to the jury leaving. Lawyer Scott Spencer did not meet with reporters.

The not guilty verdict does not mean all of Stanley's legal problems are over. In addition to a possible appeal, two counts of unsafe storage of firearms were deferred to March 19, after the second-degree murder trial, in provincial court. That date was set long before the trial on the second-degree murder charge.

The verdict came after an almost full day for the jury. The night before, the jury had requested replaying portions of the testimony from the time Sheldon had come out of the house, and from the time Gerald fired his first shot on.

The decision was made to replay the entire testimony and that continued throughout the morning and well into the afternoon.

Around 7 p.m., word finally circulated that a verdict had been reached and that verdict was announced a half hour later.

There has been further reaction from political leaders. On Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his concern over the verdict.

"I can't imagine the grief and sorrow the Boushie family is feeling tonight. Sending love to them from the US."

Federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould also expressed her concerns via Twitter. "My thoughts are with the family of Colton Boushie tonight. I truly feel your pain and I hear all of your voices. As a country we can and must do better - I am committed to working everyday to ensure justice for all Canadians."

On Facebook, Premier Scott Moe appealed for calm.

"I know there may be some strong reactions regarding the verdict of the Gerald Stanley trial.

"I would urge everyone to be measured in their reaction. Let us all remember our personal responsibility for our thoughts, our actions, and our comments – including those on social media.

"The Saskatchewan I am proud to call home is one that is strongest when our communities work together.

"Whether Indigenous communities or non-Indigenous communities, all of us are stronger when we stand together, as our provincial motto "Multis e gentibus vires" states - From many peoples, strength.

"Let us continue to demonstrate consideration, patience, and understanding for one another as we move forward together in reconciliation."

Friday night, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations held a 10 p.m. news conference at the offices of BATC in North Battleford in response to the verdict. Jade Tootoosis had further words about the trial.

"Today we saw no justice," said Tootoosis. But she pledged to keep the fight going.

"We are angry, we are upset and we are hurt. But we will only continue to pursue justice for Colten."

Several First Nations leaders including FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron were on hand to denounce what happened in court.

"What would you do if that was your child?" said Cameron about the verdict. Cameron added, "Gerald Stanley has not gotten away with this yet. Don't think for one second that you have gotten away with this. Because somewhere down the line you're going to pay."

Rallies were also scheduled for Saturday in support of #JusticeforColten in cities across Canada, including North Battleford. That rally was scheduled for 1 pm at the provincial court house. 

Stay with the News-Optimist for continuing coverage of reaction to the verdict in the Gerald Stanley trial.

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