Marriage records, police statements are key in B.C. polygamy trial: prosecutor

Crown wraps arguments in B.C. polygamy trial

CRANBROOK, B.C. — The prosecution in the trial of two B.C. men accused of having multiple wives has wrapped up its case.

Winston Blackmore is the head of a religious group in Bountiful, a community in southeastern B.C. where residents follow the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, a faith that condones plural marriage.

Blackmore is standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Cranbrook, B.C., alongside James Oler, and each is charged with one court of polygamy.

Blackmore allegedly has 24 wives, while Oler is accused of marrying four women.

Crown attorney Peter Wilson summarized his evidence against the pair on Wednesday, emphasizing the importance of marriage records seized by law enforcement from a ranch in Texas that is owned by the FLDS church.  

He said the records are important because testimony from experts on Mormon doctrine and church history shows that practitioners of the faith  believe that what is sealed on Earth is sealed in Heaven and the afterlife.

The FLDS church broke away from the mainstream Mormon church at the turn of the 20th century.

“The evidence supports that record-keeping was of significant spiritual importance to the FLDS church,” Wilson said.

The trial has also heard from Blackmore’s first legal wife, Jane Blackmore, who said she sometimes attended ceremonies where Winston Blackmore married other women.

Jane Blackmore is also James Oler’s sister and testified that he had three wives, at least one of whom she had provided prenatal care for in her job as a midwife.

Other key pieces of evidence for the Crown include a video-recorded interview between an RCMP officer and Blackmore, and statements Oler made to the police.

The trial heard that both men told police officers they had multiple wives.

Blackmore’s lawyer, Blair Suffredine, asked for the polygamy charge to be stayed, arguing that evidence in the case was collected amid confusion over the legality of Canada’s laws on plural marriage.

The criminal trial comes more than 25 years after RCMP first began investigating allegations that residents of the isolated, religious community were practising plural or “celestial” marriage in the early 1990s.

But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan ruled Wednesday that the challenge can only be put forward once a verdict has been reached.

“The notice lacks clarity and is deficient in many respects,” Donegan said.

She also ruled in favour of an application to amend Oler’s indictment that adds a fifth woman to the polygamy charge based on evidence that emerged during the trial.

Suffredine is expected to deliver his closing arguments on Thursday. (Cranbrook Townsman)

Trevor Crawley, Cranbrook Townsman, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Missed a week of news? We’ve got you covered

Every Saturday, we post popular stories from the week

Long-time Hedley fan weighs in on concert

Davis Wiggs attended Hedley’s final show last night

Kelowna couple hoping for a miracle

Endang Suslash is hoping to stay in Canada so she continue receiving treatment for kidney failure

Highway potholes under ministry jurisdiction

The District of Lake Country doesn’t touch the highway when it comes to filling potholes

Embattled band Hedley plays last show in Kelowna before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at Prospera Place

Bottle drive held for Kelowna fire victim’s family

Springfield Elementary held a bottle drive today to support the Van Gool family

B.C. umpire has developed thick skin after 30 years listening to insults

Scott McLaren pays no mind to comments from the cheap seats

Musicians Sarah Harmer, Grimes join B.C. anti-pipeline protests

Musicians are in Vancouver for the Juno Awards on Sunday night

Canadian cities hold March for our Lives events in wake of Florida shooting

Hundreds of people support the massive March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.

Health officials called after acid spill near B.C.-Alberta border leaks into creek

Tanker truck crashed south of Dawson Creek, spilling 17,000 litres of hydrochloric acid

Trudeau to exonerate B.C. First Nations chiefs hanged in 1860s

Prime Minister to absolve Tsilhqot’in chiefs in relation to deaths of 14 construction workers

Snowfall warning for Highway 3

Kelowna - A snowfall warning is in effect from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read