Three stand trial in Gore Bay this month for the murder of Wiikwemkoong’s Percy Simon

Stock Photo

GORE BAY—As the end of the second week of the trial of three people charged with first degree murder in the May 17, 2015 death of Percy Simon of Wiikwemkoong drew to a close, David Kirk of Sault Ste. Marie, lead Crown prosecuting the case, predicted that the trial will likely take up to a month to conclude.

The trial of Travis Wemigwans, Tammy Trudeau and Byron Kagige is being heard before Superior Court Judge the Honourable Alexander D. Kurke in the main courtroom at the Gore Bay courthouse. As this is a jury trial, publication bans are in place on the evidence being heard in court and the membership of the jury.

In addition to Mr. Kirk, there are two other Crowns working on the case, Kaely Whillans and Sandra Town of Sudbury.

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Defence lawyers in the case include Michael Lacy, who is representing Travis Wemigwans, Robert Beckett and David Braumerger, who are representing Tammy Trudeau, and lawyer Steve Lyon is representing Byron Kagige.

On Friday, defence counsel were questioning Ontario Provincial Police forensic identification officer Constable Dale Burns on various photographs and other evidence introduced earlier by the Crown.

A number of community members and First Nations support personnel, as well as witness support workers, were on hand in the courtroom and sitting with witnesses as the trial progressed.

The Simon family in happier times.

As previously reported in The Expositor, on May 17, 2015, Wikwemikong Tribal Police fielded a 9-1-1 call at 6:45 on Sunday morning about an altercation that had occurred at a home on Andrew Crescent. When police arrived, Mr. Simon’s lifeless body was found outside. Following an investigation by the Wikwemikong Tribal Police, assisted by the Ontario Provincial Police North East Region Crime Unit, under the direction of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) Acting Detective Inspector Gilles Depratto, three individuals were charged, first with second degree murder. Charges were later upgraded to first degree murder against Robert Travis Wemigwans, and Tammy Trudeau, both of Wiikwemkoong and Byron Kagige of Hamilton.

According to Mr. Simon’s widow, Joannie Leedham, on the night of May 16 Mr. Simon attended a residence on Andrew Crescent to have drinks with friends, but never returned home.

“I wasn’t there, but I guess they had been drinking and there was a misunderstanding,” Ms. Leedham told The Expositor. “Things got out of control, but for three people to do this to someone is hard to understand. I feel angry. Someone should have stopped it. This never should have happened.”

A charge of first degree murder requires some measure of planning the act.

The crime rocked the Wikwemikong community, prompting some community members to hold a Take Back the Night march and rally in the summer of 2015.

Trial resumed in Gore Bay on Monday, April 9.