Coutts Trial: Judge tells jurors 'assault-style' descriptor for firearms adds 'nothing'

The two defendants have pled not guilty to all the charges against them.

Remove Ads

Justice David Labrenz, the judge overseeing the trial of Chris Carbert and Anthony Olienick in Lethbridge, AB, advised jurors during Thursday's proceedings against accepting at face value an RCMP officer’s testimony describing firearms as “assault-style” rifles said to be in possession of the defendants.

RCMP Sergeant Gary MacLaren, an officer sent to execute a search warrant of a trailer owned by Chris Carbert and located near the Coutts blockade and protest during the demonstration in 2022, was invited to testify as a witness for the Crown.

MacLaren repeatedly described two firearms he observed in the trailer as “assault-style rifles”. Katherin Beyak, Carbert's defence attorney, objected to the use of the “assault-style” descriptor on the basis of its potential prejudicial impact on jurors’ judgments if accepted as legitimate.

Olienick and Carbert are charged with conspiracy to murder, with the Crown alleging that the two men conspired to murder police officers during their participation in the 2022 Coutts protest and blockade, which was a peaceful and civilly disobedient protest against governmental decrees, edicts, and mandates issued as “public health” measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

The two men are also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon with a purpose dangerous to the public peace, and mischief causing damage over $5,000. Olienick is additionally charged with unlawful possession of an explosive device for a purpose dangerous to the public peace. The two defendants have pled not guilty to all the charges against them.

"Language can seep into your thinking if you're not careful," Labrenz told the jury, in reference to the “assault-style” descriptor used by MacLaren in relation to firearms observed in Carbert's trailer.

Labrenz explained that a kitchen knife "may or may not be used as a weapon, [and] may or may not be deadly.”

"Don't let the description deflect you from your job of determining what the firearms mean in this context," the judge added. He continued, "The use of the descriptor 'assault' really adds nothing to your consideration [of the evidence] in and of itself."

The Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, the courthouse in which the trial is taking place, currently has dates available for the trial’s continuation until July 19. The judge previously shared an expectation that the trial would conclude around mid-July.

Remove Ads
Remove Ads

Don't Get Censored

Big Tech is censoring us. Sign up so we can always stay in touch.

Remove Ads