Following eight hours of deliberation, a jury found Bradley Barton (“Barton”) guilty of manslaughter for the killing of Cindy Gladue (“Gladue”) in June 2011.
Barton plead not guilty to the charge of manslaughter in his second trial. He testified that he arranged to pay Gladue for sex at an Edmonton hotel. When he woke up the next morning, he was shocked to find Gladue dead in the bathtub.
According to medical experts, Gladue hemorrhaged from an 11-centimetre vaginal wound.
LEGAL HISTORY OF THIS CRIMINAL CASE
This was Barton’s second trial for the death of Gladue. In 2015, a jury acquitted him of both manslaughter and first-degree murder. The first trial garnered a great deal of attention with respect to issues of injustices for sexual assault complainants, and more specifically those of Indigenous people, in the criminal justice system.
During Barton’s first trial, Gladue was repeatedly referred to as “Native” and a “prostitute”.
Following Barton’s acquittal in 2015, the Crown prosecutor appealed the verdict. The Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and ordered a new murder trial. Barton took his case to the Supreme Court of Canada where the highest court in the country concluded that there should be a new trial, limited to the charge of manslaughter.
The judges of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court rejected the language used by counsel and witnesses to describe the victim, Gladue. The Court of Appeal admonished the trial judge’s jury charge, which it felt was “inadequate to counter the stigma and potential bias …that arose from the repeated references to Gladue as a ‘prostitute’, ‘Native girl’ and ‘Native woman’”.
In the reasons of the Court of Appeal, the court wrote:
Those references implicitly invited the jury to bring to the fact-finding process discriminatory beliefs or biases about the sexual availability of Indigenous women and especially those who engage in sexual activity for payment.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BARTON’S TWO CRIMINAL TRIALS
There were four significant differences between Barton’s first trial in 2015 and his second trial in 2021, which are outlined below:
- The Crown discarded the theory that Gladue’s injury was caused by a sharp object. Both the Crown and the defence agreed that her wound was caused by blunt force when Barton inserted his hand into her vagina past his knuckles (a width of approximately 11cm).
- The second jury heard details regarding Barton’s internet search history. The jury heard that nine days before Gladue’s death, Barton had searched for porn related to vaginas being ripped or torn by large objects. This evidence was excluded from his first trial.
- The language used in the second trial was different when referring to Gladue. The judge in Barton’s second trial instructed the jury on several occasions to discard any stereotypical notions regarding sex workers and Indigenous people.
- At Barton’s second trial, the Crown did not use Gladue’s physical tissue as an exhibit. Photographs of the autopsy and the crime scene were used to explain Gladue’s injuries to the jury.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING GLADUE’S DEATH
Barton, a trucker from Mississauga, was in Edmonton for a moving job in June of 2011. He rented a room at the Yellowhead Inn. While outside the hotel bar, Barton asked a man whether he had any “lady friends”. The man returned with Gladue.
Barton testified that he negotiated a price to have sex with Gladue in his hotel room. That night he inserted his fingers into her vagina and the night ended amicably.
The next night, Barton texted Gladue and she met him for a drink at the bar until last call. According to Barton, they went back to his room and he once again inserted his fingers into Gladue’s vagina. When he removed his fingers, he noticed blood. He assumed she was on her period and told her he wouldn’t pay her. He then fell asleep, while Gladue used the bathroom. When Barton woke the next morning, he found Gladue’s body in the blood soaked tub. In a state of panic, Barton cleaned some blood off of his feet, left the room, disposed of the towel he used, made a coffee and then checked out of his hotel room.
Barton maintained that due to his panicked state, he lied to the 911 operator, the police on scene and when interviewed at police headquarters. Barton’s defence lawyer acknowledged that his lies were “pathetically inept, half-baked, easily disproved” and not the lies of an individual who had been “plotting how to get away with it”. It was Barton’s defence that the physical evidence supports his version of the events.
The Crown maintained that Barton violently sexually assaulted Gladue while she was too heavily intoxicated to provide consent and allowed her to bleed to death. It was also argued that Barton’s version of the events did not align with the physical evidence.
The 11-person jury, after hearing six weeks of disturbing details and graphic evidence regarding Gladue’s death, concluded that Barton was guilty of manslaughter.
Barton, who had been out on bail, was taken into custody and will be sentenced at a later date. Barton’s lawyer has advised that his team wants to appeal the conviction due to issues with evidence admissibility, however, that will require the assistance of Legal Aid Alberta to fund his defence.
If you have any questions regarding criminal charges laid against you or your legal rights, please contact the experienced criminal lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947. Our skilled criminal lawyers have significant experience defending a wide range of criminal charges and protecting our clients’ rights. We offer a 24-hour phone service to protect your rights and to ensure that you have access to justice at all times.