EDMONTON — The daughter of an Indigenous woman who was killed in a hotel room a decade ago says a judge’s decision to sentence her mother’s killer to 12 1/2 years in prison is a sign of justice.
But Cheyanne Gladue says the heartache from losing her mother, Cindy Gladue, will never go away.
“That will never change,” Gladue’s youngest daughter told media outside then Edmonton courthouse on Tuesday.
“We want to thank everyone who stood by us … and just supported my mom and her journey.”
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Stephen Hillier said Ontario truck driver Bradley Barton will get credit for the days he has already spent in custody, so about 11 years remain in his sentence.
A jury found Barton guilty in February of manslaughter in the death of Gladue, 36, a Metis and Cree woman who died in Room 139 at the Yellowhead Inn in June 2011. Medical experts testified the mother of three had four times the legal limit of alcohol in her system when Barton left her in a bathtub where she bled to death.
Crown prosecutors argued that while Gladue was passed out, Barton performed a sexual act that caused a severe wound to her vagina and dumped her in the tub. A medical expert testified that had Gladue received immediate medical help, she may have lived.
Barton’s lawyer, Dino Bottos, told media after the sentencing decision that his client will be appealing his conviction within 30 days because “there are strong grounds of appeal.”
Bottos said one of the major reasons for the appeal is evidence from Barton’s laptop search history showing that nine days before Gladue was killed, Barton searched for graphic videos.
“To find as an aggravating factor that Mr. Barton knew he was going to harm Ms. Gladue based on his internet search history was unfair … The Crown put in his search terms in the trial but didn’t put it in what he would’ve actually found.”
Barton testified during his trial that he had arranged to pay Gladue for a night of “rough sex” and was shocked when he woke in the morning to find her dead.
Crown prosecutors had recommended Barton be sentenced to between 18 and 20 years. The defence, saying the Crown did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Barton intended to kill Gladue, had suggested no more than nine years.
The judge said in his decision that Barton “either intended or was aware of the real risk of serious bodily harm, and was reckless in the face of that real risk.”
He said the recklessness was obvious when Barton chose to leave Gladue in the tub the next morning and threw out a bloody towel and grabbed a coffee. Hillier added that he rejected what he called the self-serving stories Barton told at his trial to avoid responsibility for the aggressive sexual assault that killed Gladue.
“No words can capture the tragedy and sorrow, particularly for the young family left suddenly without a mother,” the judge said.
Outside the courthouse, Gladue’s mother echoed Hillier’s message.
“I only wished Barton would’ve gotten medical help for her ? maybe she would’ve been here today,” Donna McLeod said.
The family was finally able to bury Gladue last week in northern Alberta, she said.
“We took her home to Athabasca to be home with her grandparents,” McLeod said. “I’d like to thank everyone across Canada all over who supported us.”
It was the second trial for Barton.
A jury’s decision in 2015 to find him not guilty of first-degree murder sparked rallies and calls for justice for Indigenous women.
There was also outrage when Gladue’s preserved vaginal tissue was presented in court during the first trial. She was also repeatedly referred to as a “native” and a “prostitute.”
The Alberta Court of Appeal and later the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a new trial.