Crown defends reliability of evidence in final day of B.C. polygamy trial

Crown defends evidence in B.C. polygamy trial

CRANBROOK, B.C. — The trial of two fundamentalist church leaders charged with polygamy wrapped up in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday with the Crown arguing the bulk of marriage and personal records entered as evidence corroborate each other.

Prosecutor Peter Wilson rejected suggestions from the defence that the records were unreliable in the trial of Winston Blackmore and Jim Oler, who are from the fundamentalist community of Bountiful in southeastern British Columbia, where residents are known for practising a religion that condones plural marriage.

Blackmore’s indictment lists 24 alleged marriages between 1990 and 2014, and Oler is accused of having five wives between 1993 and 2009.

Justice Sheri Donegan said she will set a date next week for her decision, but it will be months away.

Each man is charged with one count of polygamy.

Both men served as bishops for the Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Blackmore’s lawyer Blair Suffredine said in closing arguments Thursday that records presented as evidence, some of which were incomplete, were unreliable and that the Crown had to prove the accused had both a marriage and conjugal relationship with multiple women over 24 years.

The records, which were seized by police in 2008 when they raided the church’s Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas, included marriage and personal records for members spanning the U.S. and into Canada.

Wilson told the court Friday the documents as a whole contain corroborating evidence that fill in gaps for individual records.

Wilson also argued that the Crown does not have to prove the polygamous marriages were a continuous relationship, as suggested by Suffredine and Joe Doyle, a court-appointed lawyer who is there to ensure a fair trial for Oler, who is self-represented.

Wilson pointed to a constitutional reference case in 2011 that defined polygamy as a crime and that the harms outweigh the individual rights to freedom of religion.

Part of that ruling concluded the Crown does not have to prove relationships were ongoing or whether they lasted or not, just that a marriage or a conjugal union had occurred, Wilson said.

Trevor Crawley, Cranbrook Townsman, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Susan Simmons begins a 24-hour swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

The MS Athlete and ultra-marathon swimmer wants to be the first person to make the journey

New Victoria mayoral candidate, three more council candidates step forward

Four people from NewCouncil.ca jump into the race for the Oct. 2018 municipal election

PHOTOS: Tour de Victoria takes off

1,800 cyclists took off in the Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria for a city-wide loop

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Oak Bay brothers scoop 10 kg of poop from park paths in 30 mins

Family picks up dog poo to give back, inspire others to be more responsible

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

RCMP looking for missing Duncan teen

Dallas Macleod, 18, was last seen on Aug. 10

Evacuation order issued in Island village due to “risk of falling debris”

Fire continues to threaten town’s only access road

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

Most Read