Judge refuses to split the trial of two B.C. men accused of polygamy

Polygamy trial to remain as one: B.C. judge

CRANBROOK, B.C. — A single trial will be held for two men from Bountiful, B.C., who are charged with polygamy.

The lawyer for Winston Blackmore, who is accused of having two dozen wives, asked the court to hold separate trials for the men in arguments earlier this week.

Justice Sheri Ann Donegan dismissed the request Wednesday, ruling she wanted to “balance the interests of the public and the accused,” and was not persuaded that the trial needed to be separated.

Donegan told the court in Cranbrook that she’ll announce her full reasons on April 18, before the trial for Blackmore and James Oler begins. 

Oler is accused of polygamy for allegedly having four wives.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and the case is being heard by judge alone.

Blackmore’s lawyer, Blair Suffredine, told the court on Tuesday that the polygamy charges involve separate and different allegations, with no factual overlap.  

If tried together, evidence against Oler could be prejudicial against Blackmore and vice versa, he said.

“The sins of one are being alleged against the other,” Suffredine told the court on Tuesday.

Peter Wilson, a special prosecutor appointed by the provincial government, argued that expert evidence was going to be called from witnesses in the United States and that it wouldn’t make sense to have them come to Canada again for a second trial.  

“It’s undesirable and contrary to the interests of justice to run the same trial twice,” said Wilson.

Blackmore and Oler are connected to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community of Bountiful in southeastern British Columbia. 

The legal history of case goes back to the 1990s when the RCMP began investigating allegations that people in the community were practising polygamy.

Three special prosecutors have been appointed to assess charges since 2007, and a constitutional reference case was launched after charges were thrown out in 2009. A B.C. Supreme Court judge later ruled that the polygamy charges were constitutionally valid.

Wilson was the third special prosecutor hired and in August 2014, Blackmore and Oler were charged with polygamy.

(Cranbrook Townsman)

Corey Bullock and Trevor Crawley, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Study shows special needs hard to meet in B.C. public schools

It’s lunch time at the Dunn-Reker house, and four happy children bounce… Continue reading

Fernie Museum fundraiser a blast from the past

Retro themed evening raises over $10,000 for museum programming

Fernie Alpine Resort opens for preview weekend

Fernie Alpine Resort will be opening for a preview weekend, this Saturday and Sunday

Local boys raise money for sick children in unconventional way

Four local boys have found a way to use their passion for… Continue reading

Skid Steer stolen from Sparwood Transfer Station

Elk Valley RCMP are seeking the public’s assistance with a theft that… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Parastone weighs in on Slalom Drive

At a public hearing in Fernie Council on Tuesday night, Jacqueline Arling,… Continue reading

Ghostriders play hard against Nelson Leafs

Fernie Coach proud of team’s effort against top KIJHL contender

Cokato resident receives Order of Canada

Dr. Bryan Kolb has been instrumental in helping society understand what happens inside our heads

Mainroad discusses road conditions, standards

Last week, Mainroad, the Ministry of Transportation, the City of Fernie and… Continue reading

Dead rats on doorstep greets Summerland mayor

Two rodents have been delivered to Peter Waterman’s doorstep

Cougar confronts man in Clearwater

Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Black Friday fervour wanes as some consumers, retailers shun practice

Some businesses are choosing to opt out, while some shoppers are turning to buying online

Most Read