BATTLEFORD – A non-jury trial for a woman charged with killing 25-year-old Tiki Laverdiere wrapped up in Battleford Court of Queen’s Bench today.
Nikita Cook, 33, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and improperly interfering with a human body. The trial for Cook, from Onion Lake, started Sept. 7 and Justice Brenda Hildebrandt ordered a ban on publication on everything from Cook’s four-and-half-week trial except the results.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Chris Browne and Prosecutor Charlotte Morden are prosecuting the cases against all of the co-accused charged with Laverdiere’s murder. Defence lawyer Evan Strelioff represented Cook.
Nikita Cook was arrested in August 2019 and was the eighth of 10 people charged in Laverdiere’s murder.
Laverdiere was in North Battleford 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. Hours earlier Edmonton Police had responded to a call near 92 St. and 110 Ave. where police say they found a significant amount of blood on the ground behind a house. DNA later revealed that it was Cook-Buckle’s blood. Edmonton Police continue to investigate his homicide.
Cook-Buckle, on his Facebook page, had identified himself as a “Stryker” (enforcer) at Redd Alert and “Forever Doin' Dirt 18*1” The numbers 18:1 mean “RA,” and refers to Redd Alert.
No arrests have been made in Cook-Buckle’s murder.
Laverdiere knew her accused killers
Nicole Cook told CBC in June 2019 that Laverdiere was a close family friend and she pleaded to the person(s) responsible for her disappearance to come forward. Cook also said Laverdiere was one of Tristen Cook-Buckle's best friends.
On May 21, 2019, Nicole Cook posted on Facebook: “Love you Tiki with all of me its strange not having you here! Im still holding on to hope your coming through the door this is tragically (expletive) up! I love you and i feel like i let you both down! Tristen and you!”
Laverdiere’s disappearance labeled a homicide
On June 10, 2019, the RCMP labeled Laverdiere’s disappearance a homicide. Her body was found July 11, 2019, when RCMP conducted a ground search in a rural area outside of North Battleford.
From July 2019 to August 2020, police arrested 10 people in Saskatchewan and Alberta for Laverdiere's murder. Nicole Cook, Soaring Eagle Whitstone, Shayla Orthner, Danita Thomas, and Jesse Sangster were charged with kidnapping, first-degree murder, improperly interfering with a body and theft of a vehicle. Nikita Sandra Cook and Charles St. Savard were charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping. Brent Checkosis, Mavis Takakenew and Samuel Takakenew were charged with accessory to murder after the fact.
Cook’s co-accused Soaring Eagle Whitstone, 34, from Onion Lake called herself “Redd” on Facebook and listed herself as a “Boss at Hustlin.” She said she studied at “Westside FFA” and posted a photo of a red bandana that read, “Westside Outlawz 23:19.”
Sangster, 25, from Edmonton, was committed to stand trial on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and improperly interfering with a human body after a three-week preliminary hearing last fall in North Battleford Provincial Court. According to Sangster’s Facebook page he was close friends with both Cook-Buckle and Laverdiere. He called Cook-Buckle his “brother.”
In 2020, Brent Checkosis was sentenced to seven years in prison and Mavis Takakenew was given 18 months. She has since been released from prison.
In January 2021, St. Savard was sentenced to 14 months and 20 days after pleading guilty to unlawful confinement. The charge of first-degree murder was withdrawn.
The charges against the remaining co-accused haven’t been proven in court.
There is also a ban on publication of the sentencing hearings for Brent Checkosis, Mavis Takakenew and Charles St. Savard until the trials of all the co-accused are concluded.
Justice Hildebrandt reserved her verdict on Nikita Cook’s guilt or innocence until Oct. 19.
If anyone has any information about Tristen Cook-Buckle’s homicide they are urged to contact the Edmonton Police at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm