The lawyer for an Alberta man charged after shots were fired during a confrontation on his rural property will let a jury decide his fate.
About 50 supporters of Edouard Maurice lined the sidewalk leading to the courthouse in Okotoks, south of Calgary, on Friday to shake his hand as he made a brief appearance on charges of aggravated assault, pointing a firearm and careless use of a firearm.
RCMP were called to a property Feb. 25 after a homeowner allegedly confronted two people rummaging through his vehicles. Shots were fired and one of the suspects was later found with an arm injury and taken to hospital.
Defence lawyer Tonii Roulston said outside court the case has been hard on her 33-year-old client.
“The toll that these allegations have taken on Eddie and Jessie have been overwhelming. These people are hard workers. These people are contributors to this community,” said Roulston as Maurice and his wife, holding their baby girl, stood behind her.
“It’s our intention to enter pleas of not guilty. We’ll set this matter for a judge and jury trial.”
The shooting has kept the spotlight on rural crime on the Prairies. Rural property owners say they feel bullied and aren’t allowed to stand up for themselves.
WATCH: An Okotoks homeowner is facing charges after allegedly shooting at trespassers on his property. As Sarah Offin reports, it seems a spike in rural property crimes now has some taking their security into their own hands.
Roulston said the case centres around whether an individual has a right to defend not only his property, but his family as well.
The organizer of the rally said it is important to keep the public’s attention on the issue of property rights.
“We’re not letting it go. We have to keep the issue alive,” said Cory Morgan, who owns the bar in nearby Priddis.
“Every day, someone’s coming in. Somebody else had their truck stolen. Somebody else got broken into. It’s chronic and it’s getting scary.”
Sandra Moore, holding a sign that read “Eddy is the victim,” said she knows the family and wanted to show her support.
“He’s one of the nicest young men that I know absolutely beyond a doubt and I’ve said that way before this happened,” Moore said. “He’s a family man. He’s the salt of the earth. They don’t come any nicer.”
Maurice is scheduled to appear in court next on April 20.
© 2018 The Canadian Press