No split for polygamy trial, says judge

Two members of the community of Bountiful facing polygamy charges will be tried at the same time.

  • Apr. 12, 2017 12:00 p.m.

Winston Blackmore and James Oler were in Cranbrook on Tuesday as the former filed an application to separate their two polygamy charges into separate trials.

Corey Bullock

Two members of the community of Bountiful facing polygamy charges will be tried at the same time.

Blair Suffredine, the defense counsel for Winston Blackmore, was in court on Tuesday, April 11 arguing that Blackmore’s proceedings should be separate from that of James Oler, who is also facing a Polygamy charge.

On Wednesday, April 12 Justice Sheri Ann Donegan ruled, in a brief hearing, that Suffredine’s request for separate trial will be dismissed.

Donegan, “balanced the interests of the public and the accused,” and was not persuaded that the trial will need to be separated.

Donegan will announce her full reasons in court on Tuesday April 18, prior to the commencement of trial.

Both Blackmore and Oler are connected to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (FLDS) community of Bountiful south of Creston.

Suffredine argued that the alleged polygamy charges involve two separate people and occured and two separate times, and there is no factual overlap at all.

Suffredine also noted that – if tried together – evidence against Oler could be prejudicial against Blackmore and vice versa.

Peter Wilson, a special prosecutor appointed by the provincial government to pursue the polygamy charges, countered the argument by noting that expert evidence is going to be called from witnesses in the U.S. and that it wouldn’t make sense to have them come up to Canada twice for separate proceedings.

“It’s undesirable and contrary to the interests of justice to run the same trial twice,” said Wilson.

With files from Trevor Crawley

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