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Rogers expected to enter plea in next appearance

The suspect in two local murder cases made his fifth appearance in court on Tuesday morning.

Gordon Alfred Rogers, who is the accused in the murders of Onion Lake residents Violet Heathen and Jeanette Chief, made the appearance via closed circuit television (CCTV) from Red Deer Correctional Centre.

The process to get to Tuesday’s appearance has been a long one, with Rogers originally being arrested in Red Deer back in March, and subsequently charged with the first-degree murders of Violet Heathen and Jeanette Chief.

The investigation into the murders brought together police from the Saskatoon-based F Division of the RCMP and the Edmonton-based K Division, and determined that Rogers had known Heathen previously to her murder, and that Chief had not known him.

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Rogers made his first appearance in court on April 5, 2016, via CCTV, and has been appearing via CCTV in his subsequent appearances. Each appearance has been brief, and resulted in a further adjournment as the legal process worked its way through the court.

On Tuesday, the court heard from a lawyer appearing as agent for Roger’s lawyer, Ontario-based Andrew Perrin. According to the discussion in court, the Crown and Perrin are still discussing the disclosure from the case, and Perrin requested a further one-month adjournment, which was granted by the court. The next appearance of Rogers will be August 16, and a plea will be entered on that date, with the choice of court for the trial process also made at the same time.

Tom Chief, the nephew of Jeanette Chief, said he was glad things were moving along in the court process.

“I’m a little happy that finally we’re going to get somewhere, since it’s been ongoing since March, and been adjourned every month since March,” said Chief.

“The family is getting a little frustrated and impatient, and just calming them down and making sure that they have patience, because this is going to be a long process, we understand that. I’m just glad that finally we’re going to get somewhere with an election and a plea, so we get to know what exactly is going to happen.”

Members of Onion Lake Cree Nation council were also present during the appearance of Rogers before the court, and Chief said he was happy that his family had support from the community. He also expressed hope for more people to show up for the sixth appearance of Roger next month.

“I always expect more people, but we all have busy schedules, not everybody can make it,” said Chief.

“Hopefully, next month, there will be more people here.”

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