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Twobears Bird gets 2.5 years for Braeden Sparvier's murder

Twobears Bird and Shari Heathen were charged in connection to Braeden Sparvier's murder

BATTLEFORD – A man charged with manslaughter in the death of Braeden Alfred James Sparvier was sentenced Thursday to two-and-a-half years in jail after pleading guilty in Battleford Court of Queen’s Bench to the lesser charge of accessory after the fact to murder.

Twobears Bird, 23, has been in custody since he was arrested in Prince Albert Feb. 2, 2021, and charged with accessory after the fact to murder. In April the charge was upgraded to manslaughter. The manslaughter charge was then dropped after he pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder. 

Bird was given 416 days credit for time served in pre-trial custody. This means he has 496 days left to serve, or one year and four months.

In July 2020 Shari Percilla Heathen was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in connection to Sparvier’s death. In June 2021 she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.

Sparvier's murder ‘retaliation’

According to court documents Heathen killed Sparvier for retaliation because she was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for assaulting and threatening him in 2017.

In 2017, Heathen blindfolded Sparvier and took him in a vehicle to a remote location near Onion Lake. She pinned Sparvier down and used a knife to cut into Sparvier’s back and legs. The cuts were superficial. Sparvier’s life was verbally threatened before Heathen and another male left in a vehicle. Sparvier walked to safety.

Three years later, however, on the evening of Dec. 30, 2019, Heathen and Sparvier independently arrived at the same residence on Onion Lake. Heathen became angry that Sparvier was at the residence and she punched him numerous times and told him to leave. Sparvier left the residence and walked down Harlen road.

Twobears Bird and several others were also at that residence. They were all using illicit drugs and Heathen was using methamphetamine. Heathen told the others about her history with Sparvier. Heathen, Bird, and several others left the residence. Heathen got into the driver’s seat of a white truck. Bird, and several others got into a black truck. The trucks caught up to Sparvier and he was told to get in either the white or black truck. At the time he was wearing a green winter jacket.

Heathen drove the white truck and the two trucks drove towards an area of Onion Lake locally known as Montanaland.

At an unknown location, possibly near Montanaland or possibly southeast of Onion Lake, Sparvier and Bird got out of the truck and Bird physically assaulted and punched Sparvier.  Sparvier was bleeding from his face and nose and he had blood on his shirt. He wasn’t wearing the green winter jacket anymore and only had on a white T-shirt.

Sparvier yelled to one of the men present to help him but he did nothing to assist. Sparvier and Bird then got into the white truck that Heathen was in. Bird was in the driver’s seat, Heathen was in the rear middle seat, and Sparvier was in the front passenger seat.

The two vehicles then parted ways, with the black truck returning to a residence in Onion Lake and the white truck headed southwest towards Frenchman Butte. While in the truck, Heathen and Sparvier had a physical altercation and Heathen was yelling at Sparvier.

Bird drove the white truck to a rural location in the area of Frenchman Butte, about 22 kilometres from the residence in Onion Lake. He drove the truck down a goat path and into a farmer’s field.

Sparvier’s body was located in the farmer’s field by the property owner in the early evening of Jan. 1, 2020. He was already deceased and his body was frozen.

Cause of death

An autopsy determined Sparvier’s cause of death was multiple stab wounds, which led to a large pneumothorax and significant blood loss. Blunt force trauma of the head also played a role in the blood loss and contributed to his death.

Sparvier had four stab wounds to the chest, one stab wound to the right shoulder, four stab wounds to the back, one stab wound to the right upper extremity, two stab wounds to the left upper extremity, one stab wound to the superior right shoulder, two stab wounds to the lateral left lower chest, and three or four incised wounds to the left hand. Sparvier also had abrasions or incisions to his chest, back, and upper extremities, contusions to the left upper and both lower extremities, and a laceration, incised or stab would to the mid left shin. He had methamphetamine in his blood.

Snow covered the ground in the farmer’s field at the time of Sparvier’s death. Tracks in the snow revealed that a physical altercation had occurred and Sparvier had staggered for a few steps before falling and succumbing to his injuries.

Evidence recovered

Hair was recovered at the scene, which had been pulled out by the root. DNA evidence revealed that it was Heathen's hair.

There were three sets of tire tracks at the scene. One set belonged to the tires of the property owner’s vehicle. Another set went about one-third of the way down the goat trail leading to the farmer’s field where the vehicle turned around and went north. The third set of tracks were from the white truck driven by Bird and they continued south all the way down the goat path to where the altercation occurred and then returned the same way they came from.

The driver of the black truck, which had returned to the residence in Onion Lake, was told to pick up Heathen and Bird. The driver picked up Heathen, who directed him to where Bird was at and picked him up. Fire coming from a truck past the tree line was seen and Heathen told the male that the truck got stuck.

Several days later Heathen told the male that she had stabbed somebody 14 times. Months later, that male led the RCMP to the recovery of the white truck used by Heathen and Bird. It was located about seven kilometres from where Sparvier’s body was recovered.

The truck had obvious signs of fire damage but much of the vehicle and its contents were intact. Sparvier’s green jacket was found inside. His DNA was confirmed on several areas of the jacket both from blood and other biological material. His blood was also located in other areas of the vehicle, mostly in the front passenger side.

Heathen confesses

Days after Sparvier’s murder, Heathen admitted to several people - including on recorded calls made to inmates at correctional centres and to her mother – that she killed Sparvier.

She said she stabbed someone multiple times, something serious happened and that it was “payback” for someone who put her in jail. 

Heathen said the attack on Sparvier was so bad that they had to torch the vehicle and she didn’t know if he was “up or down,” meaning alive or dead. On those phone calls she said she later found out that he was “down.”

She said she thought they (the police) will know soon because “they” got into to a fight and he pulled her hair. She said “it” was all over her, and her arms and hands were bruised. She said she did something “really bad” and “got rid of that guy (Braeden).”

Heathen said five people were involved and that she stabbed Sparvier 13 times because he sent her to the “pen.” She said they burnt the vehicle to hide evidence, that she had bloody clothes, that they left him there, and that he fought back and pulled her hair while she stabbed him.

Heathen’s bloody clothing, the knife she used to stab Sparvier, and the black truck were never recovered.

The court heard that there was no known prior relationship between Bird and Sparvier but Bird and Heathen knew each other at the time of Sparvier's murder.

Bird was ordered to provide a DNA sample to the National DNA Databank.

Onion Lake state of emergency

Sparvier’s death was one of three murders in as many months, which prompted Onion Lake Cree Nation to declare a state of emergency in January 2020 due to escalating drug and gang-related violence.

If you are associated with a gang and want to leave it, contact STR8 UP in northern Saskatchewan at 306-763-3001, STR8 UP in central Saskatchewan at 306-244-1771, or Regina Treaty Status Indian Services in southern Saskatchewan at 306-522-7494 to get assistance.

Onion Lake Cree Nation borders the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and is located about 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster.

ljoy@glaciermedia.ca

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