Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mayerthorpe RCMP Murders: Plea Bargains

If you're not familiar with the story, on in March of 2005 four RCMP officers were ambushed and killed north of Edmonton in a small town called Mayerthorpe. The killer, James Roszco, was a life long petty criminal who had a vendetta against the local RCMP and had repeatedly made threats. The killing of the officers raised all kinds of questions about the training and protocols of officers working in rural areas. All four were quite young.

It was really a very black day for Albertans. I remember this cloud of darkness that was over everyone for several weeks. I remembered Ralph Klein making silly comments about gun control.

The investigators always believed that the killer had some type of help and last year layed charges against two local men Shawn Hennessey and Dennis Cheeseman. Charges of first degree murder were laid against the two but in court today they each plea bargained to manslaughter. The Crown is asking for sentences of 10-15 years.

It seems that on the day of the murders the two men drove the killer back to his farm where he hid awaiting the arrival of the officers. I'm sure other details will emerge as to their collaboration with Roszco.

The crime was cited as the single most serious loss of life for the RCMP in over a century, and certainly the most serious crime in Alberta. As the Globe article suggests, getting these charges out of the way may finally permit an inquiry as to how the RCMP management failed these young officers.

However I'm not hopeful as the RCMP have established a pattern of investigating and clearing themselves of blame when things go wrong.

The murdered officers were Constables Brock Myrol, Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston, and Peter Schiemann. Information about the various memorial projects for the officers is here. Please recommend this post

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