A Decade-Long Battle for Justice: Cindy Gladue’s Killer Sentenced
The death of Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old Métis and Cree mother of three daughters, and the subsequent trial of her killer, Bradley Barton, raises questions about the way the legal system handles cases involving Indigenous women
On Tuesday, January 26th, 2021, Bradley Barton was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison for the manslaughter of Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old Métis and Cree mother of three daughters.
This sentence comes over ten years after Gladue bled to death in an Edmonton hotel room bathtub, and marks the end of a long and highly controversial legal battle. It was June 2011 when Gladue agreed to engage in sex for money transactions with Barton on two consecutive nights.
On the second night, she was highly intoxicated with four times the legal limit of alcohol in her bloodstream by the time she had sex with Barton in his hotel room. During the sexual encounter, Gladue suffered an 11-centimeter wound to her vaginal wall caused by Barton’s fist.
Barton’s first trial, in 2015, ended in acquittal for the charge of first-degree murder in a highly controversial trial that involved the display of Gladue’s preserved vaginal tissue. The Alberta Court of Appeal, however, reversed the acquittal, noting that Gladue had been referred to in court as a “Native girl” and a “prostitute,” while referring to her sexual history.
The Supreme Court of Canada then ordered that Barton should be tried again on a manslaughter charge. The second jury found Barton guilty in February 2021. During the second trial, Justice Stephen Hillier rejected Barton’s version of events and sharply criticized the testimony Barton delivered during the trial.
“Mr. Barton was not a reliable historian or witness in general,” Hillier told the court. “His evidence … included various attempts to exonerate his conduct: sustained deceits, self-serving distortions, rationalizing contradictions as figures of…