Blue Line

Self defence or deliberate killing: Final arguments in trial of Saskatchewan Mountie

December 13, 2023  By The Canadian Press

Dec. 13, 2023, Prince Albert, Sask. – Crown prosecutors say a Saskatchewan Mountie deliberately lured his lover to an isolated area to kill him, but the officer’s lawyer argues the shooting was in self-defence.

Bernie Herman, 55, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting death of 26-year-old Braden Herman. The two men are not related.

Braden Herman’s naked body was found in 2021 in a park on the outskirts of Prince Albert, Sask. He had been shot in the chest area.

Lawyers don’t dispute that Bernie Herman fired the gun that killed the younger man.


But in closing arguments in the trial Wednesday, they disagreed on whether the deadly encounter was planned.

“He doesn’t recall doing this. It was a panicked reaction,” defence lawyer Darren Kraushaar told court.

Prosecutor Jennifer Schmidt said the officer’s testimony isn’t credible.

The judge reserved his verdict until January.

The trial has heard the two men met on Facebook in about 2018, and Braden Herman moved into the veteran officer’s family home.

The relationship quickly became sexual and caused strain on the Mountie’s marriage. The officer’s wife kicked Braden Herman out of the home in 2019, but the sexual relationship between the men continued.

Bernie Herman testified the sex wasn’t always consensual. He also told court that he was afraid, as Braden Herman would get violent.

Schmidt said the Mountie was not a victim because he continued to seek out the younger man for sex. The officer was not strung along like a “moth to a flame,” she said.

“(Bernie Herman) wanted to have a sexual relationship,” said the prosecutor.

Court heard Bernie Herman’s wife, Janice Herman, had drinks with Braden Herman the night before he was killed.

She also dropped off alcohol for Braden Herman a few hours before the shooting. Meanwhile, she was texting her husband and criticizing him for his ongoing relationship with the younger man.

“You telling (Braden Herman) you want him and not your wife, that, too, hurts,” she texted her husband.

Bernie Herman was at an RCMP all-terrain vehicle training course on May 11, 2021, the day of the killing, but court heard he also called Braden Herman 59 times.

Braden Herman did not call the officer once that day.

Bernie Herman testified he made the calls because he was upset by the text messages he received from his wife.

A video recorded by the officer of one of the calls was played in court. The video shows Braden Herman asking Bernie Herman to say that he loves him, while the officer talks about sexual positions and calls Braden Herman a parasite.

Bernie Herman testified he left the RCMP station with his uniform, duty belt and weapon in order to clean the items later at home. At some point, the Mountie picked Braden Herman up in his truck and they drove to the isolated area.

The prosecutor said the officer’s explanation for what happened next doesn’t make sense.

“His version of events is simply not credible,” Schmidt said.

The Mountie testified Braden Herman grabbed him by the face, breaking a tooth

Bernie Herman said the younger man, who was naked, walked to the back of the passenger side of the truck and bent down to grab an object. The Mountie testified he was afraid.

He said he doesn’’t remember what happened next, but his gun went off.

“This was a split second reaction,” Kraushaar told court.

It was a highly emotional situation, the defence lawyer said, and the Mountie acted in self-defence.

A killing must be planned and deliberate for a first-degree murder conviction. Kraushaar said the shooting was unplanned and haphazard.

But Schmidt said the Mountie’s actions before and after the shooting show the killing was deliberate.

The prosecutor said the officer was frustrated with his life, his wife and his lover. He left work with his gun and called Braden Herman obsessively until the younger man agreed to meet up with the promise of sex, she said.

“Braden Herman wanted Bernie to love him,” Schmidt said.

There’s no evidence to show Bernie Herman was ever in any danger, she said, and the officer could have driven away at any time.

Schmidt said after the killing, the officer drove his truck over the young man to make sure he was dead. The Mountie also threw Braden Herman’s cellphone away and waited an hour before calling for help.

The prosecutor said the Mountie confessed to his wife, which shows his intent to kill.

Bernie Herman sent a text to Janice Herman soon after the killing, saying he’d had enough and shot Braden Herman.

The message said: “Just so you know your life has changed from here on. I just shot and killed him.”

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