Preliminary hearings for the murder of La Ronge teacher adjourned to October

Hearings began on Monday and were initially expected to conclude on Wednesday

Preliminary hearings for the four people accused of kidnapping and murdering 28-year-old La Ronge elementary school teacher Sheena Marie Billette were adjourned on Wednesday until October 29 after three days of proceedings.

Charlie Napthalie Charles, Deborah Maggie McKenzie, Telsa Jane McKenzie, and Sharise Justice Sutherland-Kayseas, all face charges for the first-degree murder, kidnapping and forcible confinement of Billette — who left behind four young children and her husband.

Hearings began on Monday at the Elks Hall in Air Ronge, about 236 kilometres north of Prince Albert, and were initially expected to conclude on Wednesday. 

Billette’s body was found by a passing motorist on Highway 102, seven kilometres north of La Ronge, in December 2019.  Her death was determined to be a homicide based on the results of an autopsy, and information obtained during the investigation. 

A preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence to go to trial. Evidence is presented, witnesses are interviewed and cross-examined. 

The hearings were first set for January 2021 in La Ronge but were delayed because of the pandemic. The public will now have to wait more than two months for those hearings to conclude. It has been more than a year and a half since Billette’s death, and it could take more than one year more before the case goes to trial. 

Presiding Judge Sid Robinson ordered a publication ban on details of the proceedings at the request of the Crown on Monday in case it proceeds to a jury trial.

The Saskatchewan RCMP Major Crimes Unit South, La Ronge and Prince Albert general investigation sections, the Prince Albert and Tisdale forensic identification sections, Prince Albert Police, and the Saskatchewan coroner have all been involved in the investigation. 

Hearings are set to resume on the morning of October 29, tentatively at the same location.