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Convicted killer Bradley Barton seeks third trial for 2011 death of Cindy Gladue

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

Next week will mark the 11th anniversary of Cindy Gladue’s death. Now, the man found guilty of causing her death wants Alberta’s highest court to set aside his conviction and order a new trial. 

A jury found Bradley Barton guilty of manslaughter in February 2021. He was sentenced to 12½ years in prison. 

It was the second trial for the former long-distance truck driver from Ontario. 

He was acquitted of both first-degree murder and manslaughter charges after a jury trial in 2015.

The acquittal triggered nationwide protests, calls for change in the justice system and raised questions about how it treats Indigenous women. 

In 2017, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the decision and a new murder trial was ordered.

In 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada partially overturned that decision, ordering a new trial on the manslaughter charge only.

The Crown has already filed an appeal on Barton’s sentence, arguing that it is unfit and does not reflect the gravity of the offence.

Gladue was a 36-year-old Métis and Cree mother of three.

Cindy Gladue, cooking in the kitchen. Her family says Gladue always made breakfast for her mother, Donna McLeod. (Submitted by Donna McLeod)

She agreed to sex for money transactions with Barton on two nights in June 2011. On the second night, she was highly intoxicated by the time she had sex with Barton in his hotel room.

Her body was found in a bathtub at the Yellowhead Inn. Gladue died from a fatal internal injury that the Crown alleged was caused by rough sex.

Barton called 911 to report the death. 

His lawyers argue that what happened next violated Barton’s charter rights. 

Unlawful detention alleged

Police asked Barton to come with them to downtown headquarters to give a statement. 

A factum filed by appellate lawyer Peter Sankoff alleges police never told Barton that he was a potential suspect, but they urged him to explain his involvement in Gladue’s death. Barton was held for six-and-a-half hours.

During the trial, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Stephen Hillier found that the first three hours of detention could be justified, but he would not admit any of the statements given by Barton after that point.

There is virtually no precedent for the length of detention that occurred here.– Lawyer Peter Sankoff

“For a detention to be lawful, it must be brief in duration and not oblige the detainee to answer police questions,” Sankoff argues. “There is virtually no precedent for the length of detention that occurred here.” 

He points to other cases that showed an 11-minute investigative detention was too long, while allowable detentions ranged in length from a few minutes to under an hour. 

“While police may have wanted to obtain a recorded statement, the appellant had no legal obligation to provide one and could not be detained for that purpose,” the court document states.

Sankoff also alleges police waved off his question about whether he should seek legal advice. 

“The appellant’s statements were inherently unreliable because police obtained them in breach of his right to counsel,” the court document states.

Computer evidence should have been excluded: lawyer 

Barton’s lawyer argues his client’s constitutional rights were also violated when police seized Barton’s duffle bag. It contained his laptop, which revealed evidence of searches for pornographic websites that was put before the jury. 

Police said they seized the bag to preserve the evidence in order to obtain a search warrant. At trial, the judge found the seizure did not violate Barton’s charter rights. 

Sankoff disagrees and argues police did not have reasonable grounds to seize and hold the bag. For that reason, he believes the website evidence should have been excluded at trial. 

“All of the evidence was obtained in a manner that violated the appellant’s charter rights,” Sankoff states.

Sankoff told CBC News he expects the Crown to file a response by the end of the summer. 

Barton remains in custody.

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