Charges dropped against Okotoks rancher accused of shooting trespasser
An Okotoks landowner accused of shooting and injuring a man who was found prowling his property in February is no longer facing charges.
Edouard Maurice confronted two trespassers who he says were rummaging through his vehicles on February 24.
Maurice was charged with aggravated assault, pointing a firearm and careless use of a firearm following the incident.
Stephanie Ann Martens and Ryan Watson were later charged with trespassing, theft and mischief.
Maurice’s supporters, many of them rural landowners, have attended court and spoken out about his right to defend himself.
Many were outside of court again on Friday and were elated when the charges were withdrawn.
The Crown says new details emerged in the case and that was what prompted the dismissal.
“We received information from a firearms expert and that information was compelling, to say the least, and it had a direct impact on the decision today to drop the charges,” said Chief Crown Prosecutor James Sawa. “In my experience as a lawyer for 25 years that when I conduct a case, a prosecution, I don’t take public pressure as an influence on my decision making or how I conduct myself. The merits of the case have to be decided upon, the merits of the case have to be reviewed again, analyzed and the law applied and that was done in this case.”
Maurice was emotional while speaking with reporters following the decision and says he is just glad it’s over.
“Shocked, relief it’s over. It’s been a, quite a tough four months to go through this. Been a lot of stress, anxiety, you know, but the support that’s come out it really helped. You know, everyone showing up on our court appearances, it’s really kept our heads above water. I have really never had to encounter anything like this, it’s just overwhelming,” he said.
He says now that it’s over he will probably take a holiday, spend time with his family and move on.