Donna Bartlett has been trying to get it out of her mind, but the thought of hearing details in court next week about her granddaughter’s death has been hard to shake.
“The closer it gets, the more anxious I get and the easier it is to leave,” she said.
“Sometimes I just want to break down and cry, and I can’t do that. I have my kids and everyone else, so I try to stay strong.”
It’s been nearly a year since police announced that Jeremy Skibicki had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Marcedes Myran, 26, whom Bartlett helped raise.
Skibicki was also charged with the deaths of three other First Nations women: Morgan Harris, 39, Rebecca Contois, 24, and a third unidentified woman who has been named Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe by the community. or Buffalo Woman.
The case will head back to court starting Monday morning, with the pretrial scheduled to last until Nov. 21.
While Myran’s family said Crown prosecutors have shared some information with them about the details expected to emerge, that won’t make it any easier to hear from them.
“There’s not much you can do to prepare for something like this… Anything shared in that courtroom is going to be difficult for me and my family,” said Jorden Myran, Marcedes Myran’s younger sister.
“You just have to go in and try to be as strong as you can and try to get through it together as a family.”
Melissa Robinson, Morgan Harris’ cousin, said no matter how difficult it may be to hear what is being brought up in the pretrial phase, or potentially be in the same room as the person accused of her cousin’s death, it is important that your family is there. .
“We’re at a point where, you know, we see progress. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. And that doesn’t mean we’re slowing down,” Robinson said.
“If we take a step back now, things will be forgotten and they may not push as hard. That’s why we’ve been so diligent to stay strong and move forward.”
Both families said they also plan to continue pushing for their loved ones’ remains to be searched at a landfill. Police have said they believe they were taken to the Prairie Green landfill near Winnipeg.
Robinson said bringing home his cousin’s remains is also a promise he made to Harris’ older sister, who died earlier this year after being diagnosed with cancer.
What is in a pretrial?
While a publication ban means details that emerge in Skibicki’s upcoming court appearances cannot be reported, there are common problems that often arise in the pretrial stages, said Chris Gamby, a defense attorney who does not. participates in the Skibicki case.
These include issues such as whether certain evidence is allowed to be used at trial and whether statements a defendant gave to police are considered admissible. Those types of issues are often determined by what’s called a voir dire, a kind of “trial within a trial,” she said.
“The purpose of the pre-trial phase is to work out some of those things beforehand and shape the hearing,” said Gamby, director of communications for the Manitoba Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and a criminal defense lawyer with Brennan Partners.
“If the Crown is going to rely on evidence, it would be good to know if they are allowed to do so before we go down the rabbit hole of selecting a jury, having people appear in court and having the actual hearing.”
Gamby said he can only imagine the amount of evidence there must be to analyze such a complicated matter.
For now, Harris and Myran’s families said they support each other and their community, especially in places like the camps that have been established to honor women.
“It helps because then you see that, yes, people care. People understand. They’re trying,” Bartlett said.
“[It] It makes me feel a little better. As if we weren’t doing it alone.”
Support is available for anyone affected by the details of this case. If you need support, you can contact Ka Ni Kanichihk’s Medicine Bear Counseling, Support and Elder Services at 204-594-6500, ext. 102 or 104 (within Winnipeg) or 1-888-953-5264 (outside of Winnipeg).
Support is also available through Manitoba’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Liaison Unit Keewatinowi Okimakanak at 1-800-442-0488 or 204-677-1648.