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Closing arguments made in case of Alberta father, son accused of murdering hunters

Were suspects defended themselves, or taking the law into their own hands?
Jacob (Jake) Sansom (left) and his uncle Maurice (Morris) Cardinal are shown in a handout photo from the Facebook page “Justice for Jake and Morris.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Justice for Jake and Morris **MANDATORY CREDIT**

A father and son accused of murdering two Métis hunters defended themselves, their lawyers said during closing statements at trial, while the prosecution argued it was a case of taking the law into one’s own hands.

Roger Bilodeau, 58, and his 33-year-old son Anthony Bilodeau have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of second-degree murder. A judge was giving jurors instructions late Monday afternoon before they were to start deliberations.

Jacob Sansom, 39, and his 57-year-old uncle Maurice Cardinal were found dead on the side of a road near Glendon, Alta., northeast of Edmonton, on March 28, 2020. Sansom was shot once in the chest and Cardinal was hit three times in the shoulder.

Lawyer Brian Beresh, who is representing Anthony Bilodeau, told the jury to find his client not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter because the man had no choice but to shoot the two hunters.

“Our system of justice applies a tolerance, an understanding that in some cases there can be misjudgment and in some cases there can be an error so long as there is no criminal intent,” Beresh told the jury.

“We do not punish people who make mistakes.”

Court has heard that on the night of March 27, 2020, Anthony Bilodeau got a call from his father and younger brother, who were pursing a white Dodge pickup they suspected had been on the family farm earlier in the day.

Roger Bilodeau told Anthony Bilodeau to meet up with them and to bring a gun for protection, court was told.

Anthony Bilodeau testified that his phone was still connected to his father’s Bluetooth speaker when he heard thuds and cracking glass before his brother screamed for someone not to kill or hurt his father.

Court heard that Sansom smashed the passenger window of Roger’s Bilodeau’s Ford F-150 with his bare fists then allegedly attacked Joseph and Roger Bilodeau in the truck.

Anthony Bilodeau said when he arrived, he shot Sansom because the man had charged toward him. Anthony Bilodeau also said he heard Sansom call out to Cardinal to get a gun so they could kill him.

Anthony Bilodeau said he shot Cardinal after the hunter came at him with a large gun, saying he was going to kill Anthony Bilodeau in retaliation for shooting Sansom.

Anthony Bilodeau testified he could see Cardinal’s gun had a magazine attached and he feared for everyone’s safety. He said he shot Cardinal another two times in the back of the shoulder.

In his closing statements, Beresh focused on the alcohol levels of Sansom and Cardinal. A toxicology report showed Sansom’s blood-alcohol level was nearly three times over the legal driving limit, while Cardinal’s was nearly twice over the limit.

“You know that a drunk driver, a drunk person with a knife, a drunk person with a gun is far more dangerous than one who is sober,” Beresh said.

The hunters had been told to leave a friend’s house earlier in the day because they were getting rowdy, Beresh added.

Crown prosecutor Jeff Rudiak argued that Sansom and Cardinal’s state of intoxication was not relevant.

RELATED: Defence says man had no choice but to shoot Indigenous hunters in Alberta roadside confrontation