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Sask's highest court dismisses Soaring Eagle Whitstone's appeal

Soaring Eagle Whitstone was the 'Queen' of Westside Outlawz and had ordered Tiki Laverdiere's murder for the benefit of a criminal organization, court heard.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has dismissed Soaring Eagle Whitstone’s appeal of her murder conviction in Tiki Laverdiere’s death.

In November 2022, Whitstone was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. She appealed her first-degree murder conviction and asked the court to substitute it with manslaughter.

In her appeal, Whitstone had said the trial judge erred in his assessment of Jesse Sangster’s evidence and in determining that she had intended to cause Laverdiere’s death. She asserted that the trial judge had rejected Sangster’s evidence on improper bases, including a reliance on myths, unfounded inferences, and stereotypes, thus committing an error of law.

“In my view, reading the judgment as a whole does not reveal palpable and overriding error,” said Justice Jerome Tholl, in concurrence with Madam Justices LIan Schwann and Jillyne Drennan in a May 14 written decision.

“The trial judge exhaustively canvassed the evidence and provided extensive reasons for why he believed some of the testimony and why he did not believe other parts.”

On the issue of whether or not Whitstone intended to cause to cause Laverdiere’s death, Justice Tholl said, “even if the trial judge were not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Soaring Eagle meant to cause the death of Tiki, he was nonetheless satisfied that 'at a minimum Soaring Eagle knew that bodily harm being inflicted on Tiki was likely to cause Tiki’s death and she was reckless whether death ensured or not.'”

Soaring Eagle Whitstone ‘the devil’s spawn’

Soaring Eagle Whitstone, as "Queen" of Westside Outlawz street gang, ordered the murder of Tiki Laverdiere, court heard.

“Red is the devil’s spawn,” Mavis Takakenew testified at Battleford Court of King’s Bench in September 2022 about her sister Soaring Eagle Whitstone. “She is soulless.”

Whitstone, now 38, is from Onion Lake Cree Nation and was Tristen Cook-Buckle’s great aunt.

She was the “Queen” of the Westside Outlawz street gang and went by the name Red.

She is the mother to eight children who all have different fathers, court heard during her trial in Battleford Court of King’s Bench in October 2022.

During Sangster’s preliminary hearing in September and October 2020, Soaring Eagle Whitstone testified that she was a gang member for about 20 years and she went by the name Red the last five years. She said she had about six “underlings,” “girls,” under her. They included Shayla Orthner, Danita Thomas, and Nikita Cook. She also called them her “soldiers.”

Soaring Eagle Whitstone lived at 1412-101st Street in North Battleford with Valene McCallum, who is now deceased. According to her obituary, McCallum, 36, died suddenly on Feb. 25, 2020.

A video recording taken of McCallum in the back of an unmarked police vehicle shortly after Laverdiere’s disappearance and death was played in court. It showed her sitting in the back and talking with two RCMP Major Crimes investigators who were seated in the front. McCallum told the officers that Soaring Eagle Whitstone came to her house with Laverdiere tied up.

“She said 'hostage in the house.' I didn’t understand. I was shocked.”

“They are awful, awful people,” added McCallum about the Westside Outlawz street gang members. “I’m so scared to stay home. I can’t sleep. [Laverdiere] was covered head-to-toe with blood. Blood. That’s all.”

Seeing this pleased Soaring Eagle Whitstone, McCalllum told the officers.

“She was satisfied. She was happy.”

“It was just pure evil. She [Soaring Eagle Whitstone] had a smile on her face. Satisfied. There’s nothing to say about it except evil.”

McCallum told them she was tormented by what had happened to Laverdiere.

“I can’t sleep. I can’t take a nap. I close my eyes … I couldn’t help her. I was so [expletive] scared. I can’t think straight.

"I stay drunk. I stay high. Being sober is just too hard to deal with this. It is awful. I had to act like I didn’t care what they did.”

Laverdiere’s eyes still haunted her, she told the officers.

“I close my eyes and all I can see is her eyes looking at me. I try not to think about it. I feel bad. I put it in the back of my head.”

She said that Soaring Eagle Whitstone was with both Terror Squad and Westside Outlawz street gangs.

10 convicted in Laverdiere's murder

From July 2019 to August 2020, police arrested 10 people in Saskatchewan and Alberta and charged them in Laverdiere’s murder.

In April 2024, Jesse Sangster was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 10 years on a manslaughter charge.

In October 2021, 32-year-old Nikita Sandra Cook was found guilty of first-degree murder for the benefit of a criminal organization. She was sentenced to life with no parole for 25 years.

In January 2023, 40-year-old Nicole Cook pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She was sentenced to life with no parole for 10 years.

In June 2022, 34-year-old Danita Thomas, was found guilty of manslaughter and improperly interfering with human remains. She was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison.

In August 2022, 29-year-old Shayla-Ann Victoria Orthner was sentenced to 10.5 years in prison for manslaughter.

In May 2020, 19-year-old Brent Firel Checkosis was sentenced to seven years in prison for accessory to murder.

In May 2020, 55-year-old Mavis Takakenew was sentenced to 18 months in jail for accessory to murder.

In December 2021, 36-year-old Samuel Takakenew was sentenced to 365 days in jail for accessory to murder.

In January 2021, 34-year-old Charles St. Savard was sentenced to two years for unlawful confinement.

Laverdiere reported missing

May 1, 2019, was Laverdiere’s last contact with her family, according to RCMP.

On May 12, 2019, Laverdiere’s mother Carol Laverdiere reported her missing to Battlefords RCMP.

On July 11, 2019, a police dog found Laverdiere's remains in a rural area outside of North Battleford while RCMP were conducting a ground search.

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