A former Saskatchewan Mountie has been found guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of his lover.
Bernie Herman, 55, had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Braden Herman. The two men are not related.
"I did not believe (Bernie) Herman that he felt threatened," Court of King's Bench Justice Gary Meschishnick said in his decision Thursday.
But the judge said the Crown had not proven the officer was not provoked.
A killing must have been planned and deliberate for a first-degree murder conviction.
Braden Herman's family gasped as the verdict was read and many people started to cry. One woman swore and left the courtroom.
Braden Herman's naked body was found in 2021 in a park on the outskirts of Prince Albert.
Bernie Herman testified that he fired the gun that killed the younger man.
But his lawyers said the shooting was in self-defence. Prosecutors argued the Mountie deliberately lured his lover to the isolated area to kill him.
The trial in December heard the two men met on Facebook in about 2018. Not long after, Braden Herman moved into the veteran officer’s family home.
The relationship became sexual and caused strain on the Mountie’s marriage. The officer's wife kicked Braden Herman out of the home in 2019, but the sexual relationship between the men continued.
Bernie Herman told the trial the sex wasn’t always consensual. The officer said he was afraid because the young man would get violent.
Prosecutors said Bernie Herman’s testimony wasn’t credible, as the officer continued to sleep with and seek out the younger man.
Messages shown in court suggest there was love between the two men, but there was also frustration.
A video recorded by the officer of a call he made to Braden Herman on the day of the killing was played in the trial. The video showed Braden Herman asking Bernie Herman to say that he loves him, while the officer talks about sexual positions and calls Braden Herman a parasite.
Later that day, wearing his uniform, duty belt and RCMP-issued weapon, Bernie Herman picked up the younger man and they drove to the park.
The Mountie testified Braden Herman grabbed him by the face. Bernie Herman said the younger man, who was naked, walked to the back of the passenger side of the truck and bent down to grab an object.
The Mountie testified he doesn't remember what happened next, but his gun went off.
Defence lawyers said the officer was afraid, and the shooting was unplanned and haphazard.
Prosecutors said the Mountie deliberately brought home his service weapon and lured Braden Herman to the isolated area with the promise of sex. The officer also confessed to his wife, prosecutors said, which showed intent to kill.
Bernie Herman sent a text to Janice Herman soon after the killing, saying he'd had enough and shot Braden Herman.
The message said: “Just so you know your life has changed from here on. I just shot and killed him.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 25, 2024.