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Justice (25-42)

Cindy Gladue murder trial: manslaughter conviction

February 12, 2021

Edmonton Journal – Bradley Barton convicted of manslaughter in his second trial for killing Cindy Gladue in an Edmonton hotel room in 2011. Unlike in his first trail, the repeated references to Cindy Gladue as a native girl, a native woman and a prostitute were not allowed since they promoted “discriminatory beliefs or biases about the sexual availability of Indigenous women and especially those who engage in sexual activity for payment.

The case became a flashpoint and encapsulation of the issues sexual assault complainants and Indigenous people face in the criminal justice system. In the first trial, Gladue was repeatedly referred to as “Native” and a “prostitute,” and in an unprecedented step, the Crown entered as evidence part of Gladue’s preserved vaginal tissue. The Crown hoped the tissue — which was admitted over the protests of the defence — would illustrate the extent of the injury. Critics argued the move “completely dehumanized” Gladue in the eyes of jurors.

The Crown appealed Barton’s acquittal, and in 2017 the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned it and ordered a new murder trial. The Supreme Court of Canada weighed in after Barton filed his own appeal, deciding there should be a new trial, but only on a charge of manslaughter.