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Supreme Court: New trial for man charged in crash that killed his family

The Supreme Court of Canada upheld Sask. Court of Appeal’s decision to order a new trial for Robert Major who was sentenced to seven years in prison.
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On Thursday the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the Sask. Court of Appeal's ruling for a new trial for Robert Major.

OTTAWA – On Thursday, Canada’s highest court upheld the Sask. Court of Appeal’s decision to order a new trial for Robert Major who was sentenced to seven years in prison.

A Sask. Crown had applied to the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down the July 2022 Sask. Court of Appeal’s ruling for a new trial for Major. In January 2019, following a jury trial in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench, Major was convicted of killing his two sons and girlfriend in a collision on Highway 16 near Langham in February 2016.

The Sask. Court of Appeal had ordered a new trial citing that data admitted at trial from the event data recorder had been admitted into evidence without proper foundation. Defence lawyers Brian Pfefferle and Thomas Hynes represent Major. 

“Given the central importance of that evidence, the appeal must be allowed, the convictions set aside and a new trial ordered,” wrote the Sask. Court of Appeal in its July 2022 decision.

According to court documents obtained by SASKTODAY.ca, Major drove his 2012 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck at a high rate of speed and broadsided a semi-truck that was hauling two trailers loaded with vehicles on Highway 16. The impact from the crash threw the semi-truck into the north ditch, ripped the box off Major’s truck and embedded its cab off the ground into the semi.

All seven occupants of Major’s truck were trapped for hours before emergency personnel could free them. Major’s four-year-old son, nine-year-old son and girlfriend died. The other three occupants had severe injuries and were taken to hospital. Major sustained non-life-threatening injuries. No one was wearing seat belts at the time of the collision.

Court documents reveal that the stop sign from RR 3083 to Highway 16 was missing at the time. It had been knocked down the previous week and wasn’t standing the day of the collision. Major had testified that he knew there was a stop sign at the intersection and was looking for it as he was driving but when he saw the semi-truck it was too late.

A Sask. court released Major from prison in December 2019 pending his appeal of the seven-year prison sentence.

A new trial date hasn’t been set.

Email Lisa Joy at [email protected]

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