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Two men from Spiritwood RCMP dangerous persons alert appear in court

The Crown is opposed to Kelly Witchekan and Melvin Starblanket's release

NORTH BATTLEFORD – Two men who were the subject of a dangerous persons alert by Spiritwood RCMP appeared as prisoners in court Friday.

Thirty-three-year-old Melvin Starblanket appeared in person and 22-year-old Kelly Witchekan appeared by phone from the correctional centre.

Crown Prosecutor Kofi Nkrumah-Young is proceeding by indictment against both accused and told the court he was opposed to their release. They were remanded in custody.  

Spiritwood RCMP had issued a dangerous persons alert and identified Starblanket and Witchekan as the armed suspects on foot after shots were fired on Witchekan Lake First Nation Sept. 5. Witchekan was arrested in Saskatoon the next night. Police had said that Starblanket was still at large and it isn't clear when he was arrested but he made his first appearance in court Sept. 9 on the charges related to the dangerous persons alert.

Starblanket and Witchekan were charged with numerous firearms-related offences for the alleged Sept. 5 incident. The charges against them haven't been tested in court.

Court heard that at the time of the shooting on Witchekan Lake First Nation, Starblanket was wanted by police on charges from previous incidents. On Dec. 31, 2021, Starblanket allegedly failed to stop for police in Pelican Lake First Nation. In that incident he was charged with possession of ammunition when prohibited, obstruction of a peace officer by running away and failing to stop for a peace officer.

Starblanket is also charged with break and enter into a shop and theft of a vehicle from an incident on Aug. 7, and failing to appear in court on Aug. 9. He is also accused of failing to report to a probation officer on June 16. The court gave him time to apply for legal aid and his matters were adjourned to Sept. 13.

Witchekan is expected to appear in court on Sept. 14 by CCTV from the correctional centre.

Defence Anupama Sahu represents Witchekan and asked the court for an adjournment saying she has received disclosure from the federal Crown and is waiting for disclosure from the provincial Crown. Disclosure consists of the Crown’s case against the accused and usually includes search warrants, the charging document, details of the offence, audio/video and transcribed witness statements, statements from the accused, expert reports, exhibits, private communication intercept authorizations, evidence, and criminal records of witnesses and the accused.

Judge Kevin Hill granted the adjournment saying the disclosure is likely “rather substantial under the circumstances.”

Court heard that Kelly Witchekan also has 10 new firearms-related charges with his co-accused, 32-year-old Shane Witchekan, who also had an appearance in court Friday and was remanded in custody. Court heard that the two are brothers. 

Shane Witchekan and Kelly Witchekan are accused of robbing a person at gunpoint on Sept. 2, assault with a weapon, having a sawed-off .22 rifle, and prohibited firearms related offences.

The Crown is also opposed to Shane Witchekan’s release and he is scheduled back in court Sept. 15.

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