SASKATOON – The trial for a 68-year-old man charged with first-degree murder in his wife’s death is dragging on into its second year.
“The trial has been locked into a series of voir dire hearings,” said Justice Richard Danyliuk May 11 in his fiat about re-opening a voir dire to allow Fertuck to cross-examine his former domestic partner Doris Larocque, and firearms/ballistics expert Kenneth Chan.
“His vital interests are at stake,” said Justice Danyliuk. “I am not applying a different standard to Crown and defence when assessing this application, but as I have previously observed the stakes could not be higher for Mr. Fertuck. He is entitled to a fair trial – not a perfect trial, but a fair trial.”
Fertuck is representing himself since his lawyers quit after he made complaints about them to the Law Society of Saskatchewan alleging incompetence and failure to follow his instructions and directions.
Fertuck said his lawyers didn’t ask Chan the questions he wanted. He said had they done so, or if he is allowed to do so, he will either prove or cast doubt on the Crown’s assertion that the shell casings found in the gravel pit where Sheree Fertuck disappeared did not come from any rifle he possessed.
In April 2022, the Crown called Courtney and Dean Williams to enter new evidence. The Williams had bought an outbuilding from a farmyard west of the city in the Perdue area and when they went to move the building, they found a .22 Ruger rifle. Chan testified that it was the rifle used to fire rounds and ejected shell casings in the gravel pit where Sheree Fertuck had gone missing and where the Crown believes she was killed.
Fertuck also claims that Larocque's testimony about an oral statement he made to her admitting that he killed Sheree Fertuck was never actually made, and that it is not proof nor corroborative of anything. Fertuck wants to cross-examine her in person but Justice Danyliuk declined and will allow her to testify from a soft room, as she did previously.
On April 28, Justice Danyliuk was prepared to rule on all of the voir dires but Fertuck had indicated he wanted to apply to re-open the voir dires and recall Crown witnesses Larocque and Chan for further cross-examination. On May 11, Justice Dayliuk said in his fiat that he must grant Fertuck’s application to cross-examine the two witnesses.
“He is convinced, he says, that his own further cross-examination will provide evidence that will prove him innocent,” said Justice Danyliuk.
Fertuck was arrested June 24, 2016, near Saskatoon and charged with first-degree murder after he told an undercover officer posing as a crime boss in the Mr. Big sting that he had shot his estranged wife 51-year-old Sheree Fertuck twice with a .22 calibre rifle and put her body in the gravel pit, court heard.
“One of those [voir dire] hearings is of particular complexity; that is, it is a hearing to determine whether utterances of the accused during a major undercover crime operation [Mr. Big sting] may be admitted into evidence in the trial proper,” said Justice Danyliuk in his fiat.
Mr. Big stings are covert operations used by the RCMP where undercover police pose as fictitious criminal organizations to gain a confession. Before the RCMP launch a Mr. Big sting, they place the suspect under surveillance for weeks to learn about his habits and personality. They then come up with an interactive scenario for the suspect.
Sheree Fertuck was last seen leaving her family’s farmhouse near Kenaston on Dec. 7, 2015, to haul rock to a nearby gravel pit. The body of the mother of three has never been found. In April 2016, police determined that Sheree Fertuck was a victim of a homicide.
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