July 14th, 2024

Statements admissible if accused testifies


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on October 25, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Statements an accused in a manslaughter case gave to police after his arrest more than two years ago will be admissible at trial, but only if the accused testifies.

The accused, Cullen Drake Tailfeathers of Fort Macleod, was scheduled to have a two-day voir dire – a mini trial within a trial – to decide whether his statements to police would be admissible at the trial proper. The hearing did not proceed last Friday, however, after defence conceded at the outset that the statements sought by the Crown should be admissible, but only for the purpose of the Crown’s cross-examination of the accused should he take the stand to testify.

The voir dire was to be a precursor to the trial proper, which is scheduled to run for five days beginning Jan. 22, 2024. The trial was set to run earlier that month, but it was postponed to accommodate Calgary lawyer Jim Lutz’s schedule.

Linden Blair Grier, 33, of Brocket was found dead in a home in Fort Macleod May 24, 2021. Police were called to the residence at 2:24 a.m., following a report that a man had been injured. Attempts to save the man’s life were unsuccessful.

Tailfeathers was arrested three days later and he pleaded not guilty in August 2021 to single charges of manslaughter and break and enter.

Tailfeathers, 27, was originally set to stand trial last January, but it was cancelled the previous November after Calgary lawyer Balfour Der withdrew as counsel, citing an “irreparable” breakdown in the lawyer-client relationship. A week later Lutz went on the record and requested the trial be adjourned to give him time to review disclosure and get up to speed on the case.

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