A publication ban that previously prevented the media from reporting on details surrounding Breanna Menacho’s death was lifted Thursday following an appeal from the CBC.
On Dec. 7, Lisa Brule and Jordan Nande pleaded guilty to acting as accessories after the fact to Breanna Menacho’s killing. The two were sentenced to 10 months in custody, for their involvement in helping the principle accused, Devon Larabie, dodge the police.
No charges against Larabie have been proven in court.
Crown prosecutor Blair MacPherson argued that the agreed statement of facts, if published, would prejudice a jury and interfere with Larabie’s right to a fair trial. He argued the publication ban would only be temporary until after a jury had been selected.
“With respect to the contents of the agreed statement of facts, the details provided are graphic and brutal. As such, potential jurors who read or listen to them will surely remember them,” MacPherson said.
He argued that Yellowknife is a small city with a small population and that publishing the facts of the case would diminish an already limited pool of potential jurors.
To impose a publication ban, the Crown must prove the ban is necessary to prevent “serious risk to the proper administration of justice.”
In a written judgement Thursday, Justice Karan Shaner said there’s insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the “publication ban is necessary to prevent serious risk to trial fairness.” Though she agreed the details are “disturbing, to say the least.”
The importance of an open court, she wrote, “cannot be underestimated.”
In a free and democratic society, “it is a key element holding the administration of justice accountable.”
Agreed statement of facts
The following contains graphic details that some readers may find disturbing.
During Brule and Nande’s sentencing on Dec. 9, the court heard that on the night of May 5, 2020, the two accessories, along with three others, were present at the Lanky Court apartment where Menacho died. Larabie is accused of striking Menacho repeatedly with a hatchet.
Larabie then “commanded” the five witnesses to remain in the residence. Nande and Brule complied, three others fled.
Reading from the agreed statement of facts, MacPherson told the court that Larabie placed Menacho’s body in a cube freezer and told Nande and Brule to remove their clothes and take a shower, which they did.
The two then helped clean the apartment.
Brule, who was dating and living with Larabie at the time, suggested using bleach to cover the evidence.
Larabie allegedly gave the hatchet to Nande with the understanding that he would dispose of the weapon.
Nande and Brule left the apartment for the night. There was a meeting the next day to discuss how to dispose of the body. They decided they would transport the cube freezer, the couch where the attack took place and any other bloodied items out of town and then burn them.
Brule retrieved a dolly to transport the freezer and Nande called a friend with a pickup truck to help them drive the evidence out of town.
The friend with the truck noted that the three had been acting strange. When he was helping them move the couch from the Lanky Court residence into his vehicle, he noticed blood. The court heard that he then snuck away to report his observations to the RCMP, who were already looking for Menacho at this time.
The RCMP descended onto the apartment and found the body in the freezer. Larabie, Nande and Brule were apprehended.
While MacPherson acknowledged that Nande and Brule “had a significant role in attempting to clean the murder scene,” and he said Larabie “exerted power over the accessories” to solicit their assistance.
Though some fled, Larabie “commanded” that the witnesses stay and “forced them” to remove their clothing and have a shower, MacPherson said. He later allegedly told Nande he would kill him if he informed the police.
Larabie is set to appear in court for a preliminary inquiry on June 22, 2021.
The judge will then decide if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.