Anthony Bilodeau loses appeal of second-degree murder conviction in killings of Métis hunters

Father Roger loses appeal for manslaughter conviction.

A panel of judges in Alberta has dismissed the appeal of the man who shot and killed two Métis hunters on a rural road in 2020.

Anthony Bilodeau was convicted of second-degree murder for killing Maurice Cardinal, 57, and sentenced to life in prison. He was also handed an eight-year term for the manslaughter death of Jacob Sansom, 39.

Both sentences were to be served concurrently.

At the appeal heard in March, lawyers argued the trial judge made errors in his instruction of the jury and admission of witness testimony that could have impacted the jury’s decision.

On March 27, 2020, Roger Bilodeau, Anthony’s father, saw truck headlights near his yard on his rural property near Glendon, located about 30 km west of Bonnyville and 240 km northeast of Edmonton.

Thinking the headlights belonged to thieves, Roger and his 16-year-old son got in their own truck and chased the vehicle. Roger called his older son Anthony during the pursuit and told him to come help, and to bring a gun.

Anthony arrived at an intersection to what his lawyers described as an “acute and chilling circumstance.” A security camera captured Anthony shooting and killing Sansom within seconds of arriving and killing Cardinal moments later.

Anthony and his father were tried together. Roger was convicted of two counts of manslaughter in 2022 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

His lawyers argued during the trial, the judge instructed jurors to only consider the testimony of each of the men in relation to their own sentence. Anthony’s lawyers argued Wednesday the instructions created confusion about what testimony could be considered, and had a “chilling effect” on jurors.

They also contested the trial judge’s evaluation of two witness testimonies as irrelevant to the case.

One was a man from the area who was to testify he believed there had been an increase in crime in the area, which Anthony and Roger also expressed. Lawyers said the testimony would have helped the jury understand Anthony’s perception of the situation the night he killed Cardinal and Sansom.

During the appeal hearing, Justice Alice Woolley said having two people testify that they share a belief shows nothing except that both parties believe it.

“You can find two people who believe lots of things, that doesn’t mean they are reasonable,” she said.

It was also noted that RCMP records and reports on crime statistics in the Bonnyville area were entered into evidence.

Alberta’s Court of Appeals unanimously dismissed Anthony’s appeal.

Anthony’s father Roger, also lost his appeal but can take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada because the decision from the panel wasn’t unanimous.

“It’s hard. It’s really, really hard,” said Gina Levasseur, Jacob Sansom’s sister, in reacting to the ongoing court hearings. “It’s a sense of relief that Anthony’s conviction won’t be overturned and he will be staying there [in prison]. It’s a little worrisome, because Roger’s decision. There was one judge on his panel that was for his appeal decision, so that means that in the spring, Roger can reapply [for appeal].

“And, every time they reapply, every time we go through this process – the parole hearings, the visitation and anything that happens in these men’s lives, we’re informed. And we are brought back to day one from when we lost the two most important people in our lives.”
Roger is currently on day parole.

With files from Brett McKay – Local Journalism Reporter

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