Court of Appeals. (File photo)

New trial ordered in Vanderhoof man’s ‘brutal’ murder in basement

B.C. Court of Appeal rules trial judge failed to give key information to jurors in the Fribjon Bjornson case

A new trial has been ordered for a Nak’azdli Whut’en man convicted of first-degree murder.

James David Junior Charlie was convicted by a jury in 2017 in the “brutal” death of Fribjon Bjornson five years earlier near Fort St. James.

Prosecutors had argued that Charlie had been one of four people to assault Bjornson in a basement over a “prolonged” period of time, had provided a cord used to strangle him, and had helped leave the body at nearby Stuart Lake.

He and another person were also alleged to have later moved the body to another location and committed indignities. Charlie had pleaded guilty to offering indignities to a dead body.

Charlie appealed the murder conviction, arguing the trial judge had erred in answering one of the jury’s questions on his intent at the time of the offence.

The B.C. Court of Appeal released a ruling on Thursday, saying it agreed, and ordered a new trial.

Bjornson’s mother, Eileen said she was “heartbroken” and “disgusted”.

“We have been through enough and don’t need to go through this again. The only ones with rights are the criminals. The victims and their families have none,” she said.

Eileen said the appeal was granted on a “technicality” which doesn’t make Charlie not guilty.

“We have to endure another trial and taxpayers have to foot the bill.”

“Why can’t he just take responsibility for his actions and stop hurting our family,” she added.

Correction: In the initial version of the story, Vanderhoof Omineca Express had alluded that James David Junior Charlie is from Vanderhoof. He in fact is from Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation. Vanderhoof Omineca Express regrets the error.


Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express

aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com

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