BATTLEFORD, Sask.—Jury selection in the trial of a Saskatchewan farmer accused in the fatal shooting of an Indigenous man is to begin in Battleford, Sask. today.
Gerald Stanley is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Colten Boushie.
The 22-year-old was shot in August, 2016 when the SUV he was riding in drove onto a farm near Biggar, Sask.
An altercation ensued and the man from the Red Pheasant First Nation was shot and killed.
Stanley has pleaded not guilty and is out on bail.
His lawyer released a statement on the weekend urging jurors to keep an open mind as the trial gets underway.
“Despite any online comments or media stories, Gerry's trial is not a referendum on racism,” said lawyer Scott Spencer.
“If jurors feel that they have to pick a 'side,' then it will be very difficult for there to be a fair trial,” he noted.
“Unfortunately, racial tensions existed in Saskatchewan, and across Canada, before the Boushie tragedy and they continue today.”
Opening arguments are expected to begin tomorrow.
Spencer said the rest of Canada will be watching Saskatchewan closely over the next couple of weeks on how the participants conduct themselves during the trial.
“It is important to keep in mind that being charged does not mean that you are guilty while not being charged does not mean you are innocent,” Spencer wrote.
"The defence team is confident that the jury will take the more balanced approach of waiting to hear the facts before making judgment.
“One fact that should not be forgotten is that a young man lost his life,” he added.
“That was, and remains, a terrible tragedy.”