Frustration permeated Okotoks provincial court as Edouard Maurice’s case was held over for the third time due to lack of disclosure.
Maurice appeared in court with his family and 50 supporters on April 20, but the case was adjourned to May 4 after defence attorney Tonii Roulston said she was still waiting for “integral pieces of disclosure,” including police reports, forensic reports and a statement from one of the complainants.
“We can’t call our own experts or have our own expert assess this case until we have the full allegations with respect to this matter,” said Roulston.
She said the police were clearly on the property and a search warrant was executed, but she has still not seen the evidence allegedly found on the Maurice property.
Maurice was charged with aggravated assault, pointing a firearm and careless use of a firearm after police responded to alleged gunshots when he saw an individual prowling through vehicles on his property on Feb. 24. Two individuals fled the scene, with one suffering from an arm injury allegedly due to gunfire.
The Maurice family has now appeared at Okotoks provincial court three times.
“It is getting frustrating, because we’ve come back now, this is our third time, and we’re still waiting for disclosure,” said Roulston.
She said ideally the matter would be resolved – meaning all charges withdrawn – before it has to go to trial. However, if the charged aren’t dropped she said they will pursue a jury trial.
“Certainly I think the support we have in the community, I think that will speak for itself through the jury,” said Roulston. “I can advise from Eddie and Jessie’s perspective, they support their community just as much as the community supports them, and also advise they are overwhelmed by the support.”
Maurice’s wife Jessica made a statement outside the courthouse for the first time on April 20.
She said the family is under a lot of stress, with Maurice facing potential jail time. As “normal people,” she said they don’t have experience with the justice system and they are terrified and anxious.
“We’re trying to handle it as best we can because we can’t fall apart at this point, so we’re getting through it,” said Jessica.
Supporters who clapped and cheered as Maurice walked into the courthouse for his third appearance were shocked to see the case held over for another two weeks.
George Clark, a Calgary resident showing his support for the family, said holding over the case from week to week is a waste of everyone’s time and draws out a stressful situation.
“The judge in my opinion here today should have just said, ‘You guys have had three chances to present the full disclosure, you’ve failed every time, I’m dismissing the charges,’” said Clark. “Next time around, that’s exactly what should happen on May 4.”
Though Judge Michael Dinkel has preceded over each appearance, there has been a different Crown prosecutor each time, and nobody ever has answers as to why disclosure has not been completed, he said.
It’s wrong to force the Maurice family to continue to appear in court, he said.
“That’s a bad system, it’s a broken system,” said Clark. “First appearance we said it was a broken system. The system needs to be changed.”
Changing the system is what Priddis-area resident Cory Morgan would like to have happen. He’s part of a rural crime meeting being held at the Priddis Community Hall on April 23 to talk about how legislation can be changed.
“If we don’t change something soon, somebody’s going to get killed,” said Morgan. “It’s just a matter of time, and none of us want to see that happen.”
The meeting begins at 7 p.m.
Family friends have set up a FundRazr page for the Maurice family to help cover legal fees, and Travis Dunn has set up an account at the Okotoks branch of the TD Bank to accept donations.
“His kids don’t deserve the punishment of our justice system for them being protected,” said Dunn. “We need to keep going. If this goes to trial we’re going to have to raise more funds for them to help support him and his family through this trying time.”