BATTLEFORD – A four-week non-jury trial for a 34-year-old North Battleford woman charged in relation to the death of 25-year-old Tiki Laverdiere from Edmonton started Monday in Battleford Court of Queen's Bench.
Danita Thomas is charged with kidnapping, first-degree murder, improperly interfering with a body and theft of a vehicle.
North Battleford Senior Crown Chris Browne and Prosecutor Charlotte Morden are trying the cases against all of the 10 accused in Laverdiere's murder. Defence Erin Little of Saskatoon represents Thomas. Justice Richard W. Elson of Saskatoon is presiding. The trial is being held at the Dekker Centre in North Battleford due to renovations at the courthouse.
Laverdiere was reported missing to Battlefords RCMP on May 12, 2019. On June 10, 2019, RCMP announced that Laverdiere’s disappearance was the result of foul play and they would be investigating her disappearance as a homicide. 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.
Laverdiere was in Saskatchewan April 2019 for the funeral of 20-year-old Tristen Cook-Buckle on Thunderchild First Nation. His body was found burned in a vehicle near Vegreville, Alta., on April 5, 2019. Edmonton Police believe Cook-Buckle was murdered behind a house near 92 St. and 110 Ave. in Edmonton. His murder remains unsolved.
Ten people were charged with Laverdiere’s murder. Five have been sentenced.
In October 2021, Nikita Sandra Cook of Onion Lake Cree Nation was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years. In December 2021, Samuel Takakenew of Edmonton and North Battleford was sentenced to time served on a charge of accessory after the fact to murder. In January 2021, Charles St. Savard of Edmonton was sentenced to 14 months and 20 days for unlawful confinement. In May 2020, Brent Checkosis of North Battleford was sentenced to seven years in prison for accessory after the fact to murder, and Mavis Takakenew of North Battleford was handed an 18-month jail sentence for accessory after the fact to murder.
Trials remain for Jesse Sangster and Nicole Cook, both of Edmonton, Soaring Eagle Whitstone of Onion Lake Cree Nation, and Shayla Orthner of North Battleford. They are all charged with kidnapping, first-degree murder, improperly interfering with a body and theft of a vehicle.
The charges against the remaining co-accused haven’t been proven in court.
There is a ban on publication of all preliminary hearings, trials, and sentencing hearings until the trials of all the co-accused are concluded.