Three accused in Bourget murder choose jury trials
Preliminary inquiry moves first-degree murder charge ahead for one
KUUJJUAQ — Kuujjuaq may see three separate jury trials this year, lasting up to six weeks each, if all three young men charged with first-degree murder in connection with Claude Bourget’s death last Feb. in Kuujjuaq plead not guilty, and request a trial by jury.
Bobby “Teelu” Snowball Jr., 22, Joey Partridge, 19, and Thomassie Koneak, 24, were charged with first-degree murder, forcible confinement, aggravated sexual assault causing injury and theft after police found the body of Claude Bourget, a senior accounting clerk at the Kativik Regional Government, in his Kuujjuaq home on Feb. 2, 2005.
Bourget, 50, died from injuries received during a beating, which included an assault with a hockey stick that was thrust into his rectum.
At Koneak’s preliminary hearing, a Superior Court of Quebec judge determined there was enough evidence to proceed to trial. Snowball and Partridge waived their right to a preliminary inquiry.
Sources close to the court said Snowball and Partridge were expected to plead guilty to second-degree murder this month, under a plea bargain. Under its terms, the two would have received mandatory life sentences. Snowball would not be eligible to be considered for parole for 15 years, while Partridge would not be eligible to be considered for parole for 12 years.
But not long ago, the two accused decided to reject the plea bargain and opt for jury trials.
Some now predict that the conviction of Sammy Shennungnuk last week by a jury of his own peers may cause Snowball, Partridge and their lawyers to rethink their decision.
In early April, a trial date for the three accused in Bourget’s death will be set. To accommodate a long jury trial — or possibly three — a second courtroom would have to be set up in Kuujjuaq, court workers say.
Kuujjuaq’s new courtroom opened last December. Unlike the former courtroom, located in another section of the same building, the new one has separate entrances for the public, court officials and accused persons. The courtroom features good acoustics, ventilation for both hot and cold weather, and comfortable seating for spectators.
Within the courtroom, the accused sits in a glassed-in box, while the jury is on the opposite side, in raised seats, with a good view of the court.