by KORIE MARSHALL
Last week Shanna Buehler plead not guilty to seven charges in Valemount court, including threatening to use a weapon, pointing a firearm, unauthorized possession of a firearm and break and enter.
The charges stem from an incident in 2014 when the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team was called to a remote spot on the west side of Kinbasket Reservoir, some 50 kilometers south of Valemount. Buehler and her father had been camped out in a local family’s trapping cabin. She was shot several times, and her father John was killed on Sept. 17th, 2014.
The provincial Independent Investigations Office (IIO) was called in, and has not yet released any information or recommendations on the case. The IIO was set up in 2012 to investigate incidents where the police are involved in a death or serious injury. It can make recommendations to the Crown if it believes charges against RCMP members are warranted, or make a public report. Only one of the IIO’s 50 or so currently open investigations has been open longer.
In September 2015, Crown Council Geoff McDonald said they were not yet able to disclose the great volume of evidence from several overlapping investigations including Major Crime, the IIO, and local RCMP’s original investigation of break and enter, mischief and illegal possession of firearms. He said the disclosure contained RCMP “trade craft” which would have to be redacted before the evidence could be turned over.
Buehler did not attend court in person, but her council plead not-guilty to the charges on her behalf, and elected trial by judge and jury as well as requesting a preliminary inquiry. A preliminary inquiry is for the court to decide if there is enough evidence to convict the accused. Crown counsel presents their evidence to a Provincial Court judge, and the defence gets an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. If the judge decides there is enough evidence, they will order a trial in BC Supreme Court, which sits in Prince George.
McDonald says the defence is asking for five days for the preliminary inquiry, which will be held in Valemount, so it may take some time to set up the inquiry. Valemount Court is usually only in session about half a dozen days a year.