Farand Tony Bear walked out of court a free man Tuesday after a Queen's Bench justice found insufficient evidence to convict him of manslaughter in the death of Maxine Wapass.
Justice John Klebuc had ruled Monday he couldn't consider a videotaped confession by Bear because police interrogators had undermined Bear's right to silence during three days of questioning in June 2003.
Klebuc had found that RCMP Sgt. Charles Lerat and Saskatoon Police Service Const. Stan Goertzen "went too far" when they continued to question Bear after he said more than 60 times he wished to remain silent. They also falsely suggested the court would interpret his silence as a lack of remorse.
"I'm happy it's over. I'm relieved," Bear said with a smile Tuesday as he left the courthouse. He had been in custody since his arrest in June 2003.
"I always knew he was innocent", his father, Edgar Pete, said.
Klebuc said Tuesday he would have convicted Bear of assault causing bodily harm if such a charge had been laid, but the wording of the indictment on the manslaughter charge left him with no choice but to find Bear not guilty of any offence.
Klebuc said he accepted the testimony of Wapass's friend, Sharona Night, who said she saw Bear throw Wapass at least twice, face first, against an elm tree. Bear is more than six feet tall, Wapass was 5-foot-2 and weighed 105 pounds.
Klebuc said the Crown did not present evidence to prove Bear's actions caused the death or to rule out the possibility someone else later killed Wapass.
Wapass's cousin, Marilyn Wapass, and about 15 other family members sat in dejected silence in the courtroom after the verdict. Marilyn said she was shocked.
"I would have been disgusted if they'd charged him with assault," she said.
She hopes the Crown will appeal the decision.
"I'm not going to give up. I'm doing it for all the First Nations women who've gone missing. (Maxine) deserves justice. She deserves the same as anybody else," Marilyn Wapass said.
Maxine Wapass, 23, was last seen on May 17, 2002. Marilyn sought the public's help in finding her, posting flyers with her picture around the city and sending them to police and First Nations' offices across Canada.
Maxine's remains were found in a shallow grave in a bush near Asquith in November 2002.
Court heard she lived a "high-risk lifestyle" that included addiction to injection drugs and prostitution.
The trial did not hear from Bear's cousin, Andy Pete, who Night said was present during the assault.
Pete's common-law wife, Sabrina Guiboche, said he was irritable and nervous the day after the assault.
She said she laundered a pair of Bear's jeans that were covered with loose dirt and discovered the handle was broken off her garden spade, but couldn't say when those incidents happened in relation to the time Wapass went missing.
SASKATOON - More than a year after she went missing, Police have charged someone in connection with the death of Maxine Wapass. Saskatoon City Police arrested 31-year-old Farand Tony Bear this week.
Bear, from the Sweetgrass First Nation, appeared in court this morning, facing second degree murder charges. Maxine Wapass was reported missing in the spring of 2002.
Her body was found by a hunter last November, near Asquith. Police made a positive identification of her remains through DNA.
They took their time tracking him down even though he was under court orders and they knew exactly where he was. Then RCMP Sgt. Lerat and Saskatoon police union head applied a three day session of the Reid technique for extracting confessions. They finally broke him down, after Goertzen questioned him on a surprise visit and Bear was wearing only underwear. Bear was told his silence and lack of expressed remorse would be interpreted as guilt. Bear eventually broke down. Judge John Klebuc would not admit the confession. This should send a strong message to Saskatoon police to follow the law when questioning suspects.--Dec. 7, 2004
18 months after he was arrested Farand Tony Bear is getting his day in court. The police have no forensic evidence against him. In fact it would seem they have no evidence at all.
Maxine Wapass first went missing June 5, 2002. Remains which were identified as being hers were found in a shallow grave near Asquith in November, 2002. There was some pressure on police to solve the murder. Superintendant Brian Dueck was in no longer in charge of major crimes but the Old Boys Club was. When the arrest of Farand Bear was announced, one would have thought it had taken all this time to find him. He was not hard to find. In fact he was under court orders where his whereabouts was known at all times.
Shortly after the Wapass murder, a man who was driving a truck someone had seen her get into on the Aves was located and questioned. His truck was not examined. However, a truck Bear sometimes drove was seized on the reserve and sent to the Regina lab to be searched for forensic evidence. None was found. During the week Wapass went missing that truck was not even licenced. No forensic evidence linking Bear to the murder was found at Wapass's residence.
On Monday (Nov. 29) the court watched many hours of the videotaped questioning of Bear by police. While speaking to Bear on tape, an RCMP officer tells him "there is a lot of pressure on us."
One has to wonder if this arrest and others were made because the Saskatoon Police Service was anxious to restore community confidence in its ability to deal with violent crime rather than because they truly believed in the reliability of their case. Otherwise you think they would have arrested Farand Bear much sooner than a year after the murder. They always knew where he was.
SASKATOON - The man accused of the manslaughter of Maxine Wapass has been found not guilty by a Queen's Bench judge.
On Tuesday, the judge said he accepted testimony that Bear viciously assaulted Wapass on the night she disappeared in 2002.
However, the judge said there was insufficient evidence that Bear was the only person who could have caused her death.
The judge ruled Monday that a key piece of evidence could not be used in the case.
He decided that police went too far in getting a video-taped confession.
Specifically, the judge decided officers violated Bear's right to remain silent.
Police continued interrogating Bear despite the fact he told them more than 60 times that he didn't want to talk. Bear later recanted his confession.
The sister of the dead woman, Marilyn Wapass, said she was "disgusted" with the acquittal and wants the Crown to appeal. Bear's lawyer Bill Roe said the judge's decision was appropriate.
"I think to sum it up in a nutshell the Crown couldn't prove that any actions of the accused Farand Bear caused the death of Maxine Wapass," Roe said Tuesday following court.
Admissions made by a murder suspect during police interrogation were thrown out Monday after a Queen's Bench justice hearing the case found officers violated the man's right to remain silent.
Farand Tony Bear was in a "catch-22" situation after RCMP Sgt. Charles Lerat and Saskatoon Police Service Const. Stan Goertzen told Bear his continued silence during interrogation would be interpreted by the court as lack of remorse for killing Maxine Wapass, Justice John Klebuc found.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Klebuc said. "He had no obligation to demonstrate any remorse."
Saying the right to silence is "fundamental" and "very important for all individuals," Klebuc said the officers placed Bear in a situation where "he incriminates himself no matter which way he goes."
This "materially, and in an unacceptable manner, undermines the accused's right to silence," Klebuc said.
Klebuc had asked Goertzen Friday if Lerat's statement to that effect was "an out and out lie." Goertzen acknowledged the remark "was not true."
Klebuc noted Monday that Goertzen did nothing to correct the false impression Lerat's statement had made.
Nor did either officer correct that impression at the beginning of the June 19 interrogation that ended with Bear's emotional breakdown and admissions.
Wapass, 23, went missing in May 2002. Her remains were found in a shallow grave in a bush near Asquith in November of that year.
In June, 2003, her boyfriend, Bear, now 32, was charged with second-degree murder. The charge was reduced to manslaughter following a preliminary hearing. Bear was interrogated for about nine hours over three days in June 2003. Throughout the interviews, Bear stated 60 to 80 times that, on the advice of his lawyer, he could not answer their questions about Wapass.
Klebuc noted that Goertzen sometimes laughed at Bear's refusal to answer questions.
Police continued their questions, a tactic which Klebuc said is acceptable under law.
However, "there comes a time when police must desist," Klebuc said.
In this case, the police "went too far" on the first of three days of questioning, when Goertzen made it clear to Bear that regardless of how many times he invoked his right to silence, Goertzen would not stop.
Goertzen's claim he would go back to the cell with Bear shows "the right to silence is of little value because (the interrogators) would continue indefinitely, even if the accused went back to his cell," Klebuc said.
Police undermined Bear's right to silence enough on June 17, 2003, that they tainted the interview of June 19, making Bear's statements that day inadmissible at the trial, Klebuc found.
Defence lawyer Bill Roe asked the judge to provide a directed verdict of not guilty, saying the Crown had no evidence of what caused Wapass's death. Klebuc said he may still consider the included offence of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
Wapass's cousin, Marilyn Wapass, said she thinks the case was more about lack of police credibility in the wake of the Stonechild case than it was about the murder of Maxine Wapass.
"The police had no credibility. The judge was looking back at that," she said.
The case is a prime example of injustice toward aboriginal women all over Canada, she said. While the Crown did its best, the police did not take the original missing person report seriously until Wapass's remains were found, she said.
The trial continues today.
The defence in a manslaughter trial in which the possibility of a false confession has been raised showed Friday that the only admissions Farand Tony Bear made following interrogation by police echoed the words of officers' questions.
Bear, 32, could not remember anything about the 2002 killing of Maxine Wapass, 23, that hadn't been told to him during the interrogation.
Family members last heard from Wapass on May 17, 2002. Her remains were found in a shallow grave in a bush near Asquith in November 2002.
Bear was charged with second-degree murder in June 2003. The charge was reduced to manslaughter after a preliminary hearing.
He was interrogated by RCMP Sgt. Charles Lerat and Saskatoon Police Service Const. Stan Goertzen for nine hours over three days in June 2003, at the end of which Bear broke down crying and made several admissions.
During interrogation, Bear refused to talk about Wapass. He said 88 times that, on the advice of his lawyer, he could not answer police questions. The interrogation continued anyway.
Justice John Klebuc questioned Goertzen on statements he made to Bear that his continued silence would be interpreted by the court as a lack of remorse.
"Do you customarily use that language when a person exercises their right to silence? . . . Is that an out and out lie?" Klebuc said.
After a pause, Goertzen said, "It isn't true."
He then explained that it gives people "something to reach for." If they're telling the truth, he hopes they will correct him, Goertzen said.
Klebuc has viewed videotape of the interrogation and has heard the officers examined and cross-examined during a voir dire, a trial within a trial which requires that he decide whether the video should be admitted as evidence in the main trial. Klebuc has not yet given his decision.
Bear spoke to a lawyer four or five times over the three days, but his repeated requests for such phone calls were often not answered immediately and he was further questioned for up to 45 minutes before being allowed to make the calls.
Defence lawyer Bill Roe led Lerat through the video transcript, demonstrating that Bear's only admissions echoed police questions.
Bear said, "Just, everything was an accident." Lerat had asked many times if the killing had been an accident or if Bear had intended to kill Wapass.
After Bear made the admission, Lerat encouraged Bear, saying, "you couldn't lie to me." Bear said, "I can't lie. I'm not a good liar."
Lerat said, "Mistakes were made." Bear said, "a terrible, horrible mistake."
The sobbing Bear seemed astonished by his admissions. When Lerat told him to look at his feelings, Bear stated, "I can't believe I did that. I'm in disbelief."
He said later, "I'm in shock. I don't feel like myself."
Bear had been asked if he buried Wapass in the bush out of respect. He said, "I respect people," and, "I don't know how to answer that question."
When Lerat raised the new topic of whether a cousin of Bear's had helped Bear bury Wapass's body, Bear said he didn't remember that part and that he thought he blacked out.
Asked how he felt when he saw a police car, Bear said he didn't know. Asked what he'd done with Wapass's missing clothes and a piece of her jewelry, Bear said he didn't know.
Back in his cell, Bear asked Lerat if he could retract his comments and was told he could not.
Police interrogation techniques were examined in detail Thursday at the manslaughter trial of Farand Tony Bear, who admitted after hours of questioning that he didn't mean to kill Maxine Wapass in May 2002.
Wapass, 23, was last heard from by family members on May 17, 2002. Her remains were found by a hunter in a bush near Asquith in November of that year.
Justice John Klebuc, who is hearing the trial at Court of Queen's Bench without a jury, expressed concern earlier in the trial about the possibility of a false confession that could lead to a wrongful conviction.
Klebuc still has to decide if Bear's statements to police on June 19, 2003, will be admitted as evidence.
Videotapes of the interrogation sessions, conducted by RCMP Sgt. Charles Lerat and Saskatoon Police Service Const. Stan Goertzen over three days in June 2003, have been presented during a voir dire, a trial within a trial, which requires that Klebuc decide whether the evidence should be admitted in the main trial.
The voir dire continued Thursday, when defence lawyer Bill Roe cross-examined Lerat, drawing attention to a one-hour interview on June 18, during which Bear said seven times that he wanted to speak to his lawyer.
Neither Lerat nor Goertzen complied, continuing instead to question Bear for about 45 minutes before ending the session and letting Bear phone the lawyer.
Lerat said Thursday his duty was to ensure Bear understood his right to legal counsel and that he be allowed to exercise it. He knew that Bear understood and had spoken twice with his lawyer.
During the three days of questioning, Bear steadfastly refused to answer questions about allegations he threw Wapass against a tree while in a rage over stolen cocaine. Instead, he said about 60 times, during 61/2 hours of questioning on June 17, that his lawyer had advised him not to answer their questions.
Roe drew attention to conditions he said would have added to Bear's discomfort during the interrogation.
He observed that some of Bear's meals and a request to use the washroom were delayed, Goertzen sat very close to Bear, whose chair was in a corner with a table nearby, Bear's chair had no arms or wheels like the ones police sat in and he yawned during a morning session after a sleepless night.
For some reason Bear wore shorts, not pants, during the June 19 interview that culminated with his admission that he "didn't mean to" kill Wapass, that he cared about her and sometimes felt disbelief in what he had done.
Roe noted that Lerat gave Bear information that he might not have known before, including that the body had been found in a shallow grave, where the alleged offence occurred.
Lerat denied suggestions by Roe that Lerat implied to Bear that he might fare better if he ignored his lawyer's advice and talked about the allegations.
The trial continues today.
Farand Tony Bear told police questioning him about the death of Maxine Wapass that "it was an accident," but that statement, and others he made in June 2003, may not be admitted as evidence at his manslaughter trial.
Bear, 32, is accused of killing Wapass, 23, by repeatedly throwing her against a tree in a yard of an Avenue W South home in the spring of 2002. Family members last heard from Wapass on May 17, 2002. Her remains were found by a hunter near Asquith in November of that year.
Justice John Klebuc, who is hearing the trial without a jury in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench, has viewed video of Bear being interrogated by Saskatoon Police Service Const. Stan Goertzen and RCMP Sgt. Charles Lerat.
The video was shown during a voir dire, a trial within a trial, which requires that Klebuc hear evidence and decide whether to admit it to the trial proper.
Earlier this week, Klebuc expressed concern about the possibility of police obtaining a false confession that could lead to a wrongful conviction.
In the videos, Bear repeatedly says his lawyer had advised him not to answer police questions. Other than that, he remained silent during nine hours of police interrogation over three days.
But after watching a video of witnesses implicating him in the death, Bear broke down in tears and said, "It was an accident."
"I didn't mean to do it," Bear said as he bent forward in a chair and sobbed during the June 19, 2003, interview.
"Sometimes I feel disbelief in what I did," Bear said, covering his face with his hands.
Lerat said after the videotaped interview, he took Bear to a cell and talked there for about 45 minutes.
During that time Bear asked how long a sentence he might get and wondered whether the charge might be reduced to manslaughter.
Bear also said, "I don't think I did this," Lerat said.
Bear also said he didn't remember and said, "you tricked me," Lerat said.
After the tapes ended Lerat was questioned about his experience and qualifications.
Lerat has had extensive police training in interviewing and interrogation techniques. He estimates he has conducted 1,000 such questionings during his 17 years with the RCMP.
He is qualified in using polygraphs and has administered about 600 of them during the past five years and has lectured on the topic at the Canadian Police College in Ottawa.
The trial continues today.
Police interview techniques were scrutinized Tuesday at Farand Tony Bear's manslaughter trial, where the judge has expressed concern about the possibility of a false confession that could lead to a wrongful conviction.
Bear, 32, is charged in the death of Maxine Wapass, 23, who went missing in May 2002. Her remains were found that fall by a hunter in a bush near Asquith.
Justice John Klebuc, who is hearing the case in Court of Queen's Bench without a jury, is viewing nine hours of videotaped interviews police conducted with Bear in June 2003.
Klebuc is watching them in a voir dire, a trial within a trial.
He has not yet decided whether he will admit the interviews into evidence in the trial proper.
He said Tuesday he expects to spend a day or two dealing with the issue after he has seen all of the tapes.
Saskatoon Police Service Const. Stan Goertzen and RCMP Sgt. Charles Lerat interviewed Bear three times on June 17, 2003, for a total of 61/2 hours. They brought him back the next day for an hour and again on the night of June 19 for another hour, at which point Bear made a statement the Crown seeks to enter as evidence.
Bear steadfastly refused to answer police questions throughout the June 17 interviews. He stated about 60 times that, on the advice of his lawyer, he could not answer their questions. He often apologized as he said it, otherwise remaining silent and relatively still.
"My job is to ensure those (interview) questions aren't designed to inappropriately overcome the operating mind of a person charged with an offence," Klebuc said.
"I'm concerned about (the possibility of police) inducing false confession (which) would bring the administration of justice into disrepute."
By the time of the June interviews police had identified the remains as those of Wapass, though forensic evidence did not reveal the cause of her death.
Police also had the statement of Sharona Night, a friend of Wapass's and a fellow prostitute and drug addict.
Night, who was in custody at the time of the interview last year, had told police that she had seen Bear throw Wapass against a tree and that Wapass had fallen to the ground and not moved again.
Another witness has said Night was not present on the night in question.
Klebuc compared the procedure in the Bear investigation to that used in the case against Guy Paul Morin, who was wrongfully convicted in the 1984 murder of nine-year-old Christine Jessop in Ontario. The testimony of a jailhouse informant helped convict Morin, who was later cleared with DNA evidence.
"Look what happened there: an innocent person went to prison," Klebuc said.
Klebuc sought an explanation of the interview techniques used by Goertzen and Lerat, who conducted the Bear interviews.
Lerat said police sit very close to a suspect who won't talk so as to increase anxiety. The technique can increase the likelihood of a statement from someone who is close to talking, he said.
The interviewer uses analogies and themes, describing situations that provide morally acceptable explanations for criminal behaviour, such as suggesting that the individual was overcome by emotion and now feels guilt, unlike other, unfeeling "monsters," Lerat said.
A witness at Farand Tony Bear's manslaughter trial said Monday that a Crown witness who testified about a violent argument between Bear and Maxine Wapass, who went missing in May 2002, was not present the night of the incident.
Sharona Night, who testified at the trial last week that she saw Bear twice throw Wapass against a tree during the argument before Wapass disappeared, was not there, Sabrina Guiboche said.
A hunter found the remains of Wapass, 23, in a bush near Asquith in November of that year. The cause of her death was not determined, but three of her front teeth had been knocked out before she was buried in a shallow grave, court heard last week.
Guiboche, who lived at 417 Ave. W South in 2002 with her boyfriend, Andy Pete, and her three children, said Bear and Wapass lived at the house for a couple of months that year, too. Bear provided cocaine to Wapass, she said.
Guiboche recalled an incident at the house when Wapass became angry at Bear because he wouldn't give her cocaine. Wapass swore at Bear and said she would get the money herself for the coke. She said Night was not at the house that night.
Guiboche said she remembered washing a pair of Bear's black jeans that were dirty with soil sometime that spring, but could not say for sure whether it was before or after Wapass disappeared.
Guiboche said she also discovered that spring that the handle was broken off her garden spade.
Sgt. Charles Lerat of the RCMP testified Monday that he was brought in to interview Bear in June 2003 about Wapass's death because Bear was not "bonding" with other police who had tried to get him to talk about her.
"People don't confess the truth to someone they don't like," Lerat said.
Lerat spent most of the day Monday on the witness stand as court watched 21/2 hours of the nearly 61/2 hours Bear was questioned by police on June 17, 2003.
Throughout the interviews, conducted by Lerat and Saskatoon Police Service Const. Stan Goertzen, Bear remained silent, except to repeat about 35 times that his lawyer had advised him not to answer any questions.
The trial continues today with more of the interview videos. Goertzen is also scheduled to testify today.
A Queen's Bench judge took issue Friday with methods used by Saskatoon police in gathering evidence against Farand Tony Bear, who is on trial for manslaughter in the 2002 death of his former girlfriend, Maxine Wapass.
Justice John Klebuc, who is hearing the trial without a jury, has not yet ruled on whether he will admit into evidence a tape recording made by an RCMP constable who notified Bear in February 2003 that Wapass had died and police suspected foul play.
Const. Kelly Guider told Klebuc that his superior, Sgt. Murray Dreaver of the Cut Knife detachment, instructed him to record Bear's reaction to the news. Guider said Dreaver had received that instruction from someone in the Saskatoon Police Service.
Guider did not know Bear was a suspect in the murder and did not give Bear a legal warning that anything he said could be used against him.
Klebuc told Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter the practice seemed similar to wiring an agent with a tape recorder to be worn in a cell with a suspect.
In the recording Bear can be heard responding with emotion to the news of Wapass's death and using profanity. Bear asks Guider if he thinks police will arrest him.
Sgt. William Simpson of the Saskatoon police major crimes unit also testified Friday, saying Const. Stan Goertzen continued to interrogate Bear for many hours on June 18, 2003, even after Bear repeatedly declared that his lawyer had advised him not to speak to the police.
The court is expected to hear the videotaped interview next week.
Simpson also talked about his efforts to locate Wapass in the summer of 2002, before her remains were found in a bush near Asquith in November of that year.
Simpson said he talked to people who knew Wapass, which led him to seek Bear. He told four people to have Bear call him if they talked to him. Bear called Simpson in June 2002 and they had a 41-second conversation, in which Bear denied knowing where Wapass was. Bear then hung up on Simpson, the officer said.
In August 2002, Bear was in custody on an unrelated matter and was interviewed by Simpson about Wapass's disappearance.
In that Aug. 7 videotaped interview, Bear denied knowing what happened to Wapass. He recalled seeing her at 417 Ave. W South in April of that year. When he never saw her again after that, he assumed she had reunited with her former boyfriend and gone to the boyfriend's reserve.
Albert Bull testified that he and Wapass had a five-year relationship that ended in 2000, but that he and Wapass had maintained contact after that. He said he did not know anything about her disappearance.
The trial continues Monday.
A woman who says she saw Farand Tony Bear throw Maxine Wapass against a tree before Wapass went missing in 2002 could not explain in court why she has given several different versions of the event.
Bear, 32, a tall, husky man, twice threw the petite 23-year-old woman against a tree in a west-side yard during an argument over missing cocaine, Sharona Night testified Thursday in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench, where Bear is on trial for manslaughter in Wapass's death.
Justice John Klebuc is hearing the trial without a jury.
Wapass was last heard from on May 17, 2002, by family members. Her remains were found by a hunter in a bush near Asquith in November of that year.
Night, 21, said Wapass was her friend and that the two of them used drugs together, often injecting more than $100 worth of cocaine per day. Both women obtained money for drugs through prostitution, Night said.
She said they often bought drugs from Bear at 417 Ave. W South, where he was living.
During questioning by Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter, Night recounted events on the day she said Bear assaulted Wapass.
She said she and Maxine bought cocaine from Bear, then left and injected it. They returned to the Avenue W house between 7 and 8 p.m. when it was getting dark, she said.
At some point Bear and Wapass argued in the back yard, where Bear questioned Wapass about some missing cocaine and Wapass denied knowledge of it, Night said.
Bear lifted Wapass off the ground by her arms and threw her face-first against a tree, Night said. Wapass fell to the ground and Night didn't see her move again before Night fled the yard.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Bill Roe, Night could not remember several interviews with police in which she gave different details about the incident. Night had said it happened at several different times of day, from early in the evening to as late as 5 or 6 a.m.
She also said Wapass had taken the drugs, that she gave them back to Bear and that he threw her against the tree three or more times.
She acknowledged that she couldn't remember what month or what season the incident occurred or when it was in relation to the time Wapass disappeared.
Roe read from transcripts of police interviews with Night, including one in March 2003, in which Const. Stan Goertzen pressed Night to tell what Wapass had done to "set off" Bear.
In the transcripts, Night, who says she was in custody at the time and suffering drug withdrawal, said numerous times that she had nothing to say and asked to be taken back to her cell. She first talked about the assault after seeking assurance from Goertzen that she would be allowed to return to her cell.
Inconsistencies in her testimony caused Klebuc to ask Night why she could remember the alleged assault but not the police interviews. He also asked whether anyone had threatened her or promised her anything in connection with her evidence. Night said she had not.
Anthropologist Ernie Walker also testified Thursday that he excavated the shallow grave near Asquith on Nov. 10, 2002, and in April 2003. Animals had moved and chewed some of the bones.
DNA evidence was used to identify Wapass. Walker could not say what caused her death. He said three missing front teeth probably came out after her death, but they were already gone by the time she was buried.
A young Saskatoon woman whose remains were found in the bush near Asquith two years ago was planning to leave her boyfriend, Farand Tony Bear, when she went missing, her cousin told a Queen's Bench judge at Bear's manslaughter trial Wednesday.
Wapass, 23, was last heard from on May 17, 2002, when she spoke on the telephone with her cousin, Marilyn Wapass, and her father, Smith Weekusk, they told Justice John Klebuc. Neither talked to her again.
Marilyn notified the police and launched an intensive search that included posters around town, inquiries with police in other cities and faxing Maxine's photograph to police and First Nations around the country.
On Wednesday, the first day of the trial, witness Donald Smith recalled he was hunting in the Asquith area on Nov. 9, 2002, when he came across human bones protruding from a shallow grave. They were later confirmed to be those of Wapass.
Marilyn said her cousin, whom she considered a sister, had a serious drug problem that left her with needle marks on her arms that she tried to hide. Sometimes the drugs left her so sick Marilyn said she had to spoon feed her in bed.
Maxine and Bear were a couple for about a year before Maxine went missing, Marilyn said. In the months before her disappearance, the pair were together almost constantly, Marilyn said.
On the rare occasions when Maxine was at Marilyn's place without Bear, he phoned repeatedly, sometimes calling 10 or 15 times until Maxine left to join him.
There had been a few brief break-ups and Marilyn said Maxine told her she was considering moving to the Little Pine First Nation to live with a former boyfriend.
Despite the fact that they were always together before May 17, 2002, Bear did not call Marilyn looking for Maxine after her disappearance, Marilyn said.
She said she reached Bear on his cellphone once. Bear said he would call her back but he never did, Marilyn said.
RCMP Const. Cory Niedzielski of the Delisle detachment said two teeth were missing from the skull found in the bush in November 2002. Because police and anthropologist Ernie Walker could not find the teeth at the site that fall, they returned in April 2003 for another look. They didn't find the teeth or any clothing or jewelry, Niedzielski said.
RCMP and Saskatoon police searched the backyard of 417 Ave. W South in March 2003 for the teeth and videotaped a re-enactment.
Bear was arrested without incident on June 17, 2003, on the Sweetgrass First Nation.