Racial prejudice not addressed in Reno Lee murder trial: lawyer

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Crown prosecutor Dean Sinclair argued such a claim — that Theodore was prejudiced as a Caucasian if the process was, in fact, unfair to his then-co-accused (Sinclair argued it was not) — is without merit. Sinclair added neither Gordon nor Bellegarde raised such a concern at the time.

Theodore, Bellegarde and Gordon were each convicted in early 2018 of first-degree murder in the April 2015 shooting death of Reno Lee. Theodore and Bellegarde were further found guilty of offering an indignity to human remains.

During trial, court heard Lee was confined in Gordon’s Regina apartment before being taken to another city location. There, he was confined further and finally shot in the head. He was then decapitated and dismembered and his remains buried in a shallow grave on the edge of the Star Blanket First Nation.

Reno Lee scanned photo - fun times crop ORG XMIT: POS1801191404456072
Reno Lee. Photo by submitted photo /Regina Leader-Post

The men each appealed. What is to be a two-day hearing began on Monday at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. The hearing is being held via videoconference due to COVID-19 restrictions, and each of the three men attended by video from various custody locations.

Murphy argued the case “cried out” for the trial judge, Justice Catherine Dawson, to ensure attempts were made from the start to weed out jurors with biases against Indigenous people. While going through the process of jury selection, judges commonly put a number of questions to would-be jurors, such as whether they know anyone connected to the case, if they have problems hearing, or if they’re Canadian citizens, for example. Murphy argued since racial prejudice exists in society, similar questions should have been raised about that, and that a failure to do so raises the possibility jurors held biases while reaching their verdicts.