June 24th, 2024

Five Coutts protesters to stand trial in July

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on November 11, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Five people charged in relation to a protest at the Coutts border earlier this year are set to stand trial next year.

Ursulla Allred, Evan Colenut, Jaclyne Martin, Justin Martin and Easton Oler, are scheduled to stand trial for one week beginning July 24, 2023. The accused are charged with mischief to property and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

RCMP arrested the accused, as well as several other individuals, on Feb. 14 during the blockade of trucks and vehicles at the Coutts border, after becoming aware of a cache of firearms and ammunition. The protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions began in late January and lasted until Feb. 15 when protestors began dispersing in response to the discovery of weapons.

The five accused appeared in Lethbridge provincial court Thursday where their lawyers confirmed their not guilty pleas and election for trial by a provincial court judge.

Crown Prosecutor Steven Johnston pointed out that even though the trial is set for five days, more trial time may be required and additional days subsequently scheduled.

Identical charges against two other men, Johnson Law and Luke Berk, were stayed in July, while a Coutts woman, Joanne Person, pleaded not guilty in August to her charges, and elected to be tried by a Court of King’s Bench judge and a jury, with a preliminary hearing. The one-day hearing is set for January of next year.

Person is also scheduled for trial Feb. 16-17, 2023 on one charge of dangerous driving. The charge stems from an incident Feb. 1 when a pickup truck drove through the blockade and headed toward oncoming traffic before becoming involved in a head-on collision.

Another accused, Janx Zaremba, who is also charged with mischief to property and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, is scheduled to stand trial Dec. 6.

Four more accused, Christopher Lysak, Anthony Olienick, Jerry Morin and Chris Carbert, face a charge of conspiracy to commit murder and will stand trial on June 12-30, 2023. The Crown has elected to proceed by direct indictment, which bypasses a preliminary hearing, and all four men have been denied bail in Court of King’s Bench and remain in custody.

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