Anthony Bilodeau, 33, was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 13 years in a crowded Edmonton courtroom Friday filled with family members on both sides of the incident.
The rural Alberta man was found guilty in May of second-degree murder in the death of Maurice Cardinal and manslaughter in the death of Jacob Sansom.
Cardinal and Sansom, who were Métis, were on their way home from hunting in March 2020 when Anthony and his father, Roger, shot and killed the men, leaving them on the side of a highway.
“The judge said again that these were two innocent men who were killed,” said Sarah Sansom, Jacob’s widow, after the sentencing.
“Right now, I have to begin the healing process. I will heal myself and my children through me.”
The shootings, which took place near the town of Glendon, sent shockwaves through the community and garnered national attention.
“All the days since that day have been tough for this family and the community, and no amount of justice will ever bring the boys back,” said Andrea Sandmaier, vice-president of the Métis Nation of Alberta, after court.
Roger, 59, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison, minus time served, and a lifetime ban on gun ownership for his role in the killings.
Defence lawyer Brian Beresh, who represented the son, said trust in his father was a factor in Anthony’s actions.
“He reacted to a request to bring the gun…in hindsight, everyone in this court would say he should not have,” Beresh said during the sentencing hearing in Court of King’s Bench.
Anthony was given the chance to address the court, but declined to speak directly. He sat facing forward, wearing a blue sweater with a collared shirt and black pants.
“On my behalf, Mr. Beresh has offered my remorse to the court,” he said.
The sentence for second-degree murder ranges from 10 years to life in prison. The term for manslaughter with a firearm ranges from four years to life in prison.
Crown attorney Jordan Kerr sought a sentence of 12 to 15 years with a lifetime weapons ban. He said the Bilodeaus were the aggressors in the incident.
During the trial in May, court heard Anthony got a call from his father and younger brother, who were pursuing a white Dodge pickup they suspected had been on the family farm earlier in the day.
Anthony raced to the scene with a gun in another vehicle, and court was told less than a minute elapsed between the Bilodeaus pulling up and the fatal shootings of Cardinal and Sansom – who were uncle and nephew.
“Anthony Bilodeau didn’t arrive guns-a-blazing and jump out. He parked a ways away. That is someone trying to assess the situation,” said Beresh.
The lawyer argued there were no similar cases to this one and this was a tragedy. He suggested the manslaughter charge was evidence of some sort of compromise from the jury.
A number of character references for Anthony were shared with the court from family and community members. He was said to be an exemplary prisoner as well.
Beresh said race was not a factor in the shootings, claiming the Bilodeaus did not know the two men were Indigenous.
The shooting sparked outrage among Indigenous Peoples, with many citing it as an example of the ongoing discrimination and violence they face in Canada.