Preliminary hearings for the four people accused of kidnapping and murdering 28-year-old La Ronge elementary school teacher Sheena Marie Billette began Monday.
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.
Hearings are being held at the Elks Hall in Air Ronge, about 236 kilometres north of Prince Albert, instead of at the provincial courthouse in downtown La Ronge.
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. The hearings were first set for January 2021 in La Ronge but were delayed because of the pandemic. It has been more than a year and a half since Billette’s death and it could take more than one more year 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 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.