Ermine found guilty of second-degree murder of Evan Bear

Robyn Ermine at Prince Albert's Court of Queen's Bench, where the trial was held. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

A Prince Albert jury has convicted Robyn Laura Ermine of second-degree murder for the death of her fiancé, Evan Bear.

Ermine glanced back at her family just after the forewoman read the verdict, late Wednesday evening. She gasped as Justice Scherman pronounced the word “life” – the automatic sentence for second-degree murder.

But Scherman decided to release her for one final day with her family. She will be free under electronic monitoring until formal sentencing on Friday. It is then that he will decide on a period of parole ineligibility, which could be anywhere between 10 and 25 years.

The killing dates back to 2015, when Ermine stabbed Bear during an argument in their home on Muskoday First Nation, piercing a major artery and causing him to bleed to death.

Ermine hugged her mother, daughter and other family members in the courtroom. Her mother, Leona Bear, said that the verdict was “a shock.”

“Nobody won today,” she said. “No amount of time can bring Evan back.”

She said she was hoping the self-defence argument would convince the jury. Ermine testified that Bear was choking her, and that she struck him to free herself from his grasp.

The jury didn’t believe it. Evan Bear’s mother, Jocelyn Kippenhuck, said she’s satisfied that their verdict helped vindicate her son’s memory.

“The most difficult thing was the lies that they told about my son. My son was not like that at all,” she said. “Although he was portrayed as an abuser, as the one that initiated the fight and was choking her… they didn’t hear the stuff that we knew about their relationship. But now they know that she’s a murderer.”

She said that her family was anxious during the eight-hour deliberations They tried keep busy by watching the hockey game, but ended up pacing in and out of the house. Now that it’s all over, she said, it feels “like a weight has been taken off.”

“I was relieved,” she said. “I can’t say I’m happy, because a person is going to jail for the rest of their life.”

Her husband, Clyde Kippenhuck, said he wants to thank the jury and, especially, Crown prosecutor Jeff Lubyk.

“He’s methodical, that man,” Clyde said.

Ermine’s lawyer, Adam Masiowski, said the verdict “caught the defence off guard.”

“We are disappointed with the verdict, but we respect the jury process and accept their decision,” he said. “We have appeal options of course, but for now we will take a few days to deal with sentencing and consider what our next move will be.”

Clyde said the trial was “like a roller coaster.” The entire time since his step-son’s death has been like that, he said.

“We fought, we laughed, we walked away from each other – and there was anger,” he said. “A crazy life for two and a half years.”

Both Kippenhucks said the verdict has restored their faith in the justice system.

“The law has done its thing,” Clyde said. “I mean you don’t kill people, you just don’t.”

Jocelyn said that the family will now perform a ceremony to close this troubled time in their lives. They’ll smudge and say prayers, and then go see the place where their son was laid to rest.

“We’ll go see Evan,” she said. “He’s probably been here all this time and he knows, but we’ll go and tell him anyway.”

Clyde said that they’ll even say prayers for Robyn.

“That’s the way it is,” he said. “She too is a human being.”