First-degree murder trial hears about texts between man and Mountie

The first-degree murder trial of a former Saskatchewan Mountie saw social media messages about love and sex allegedly sent between the officer and the man he is accused of killing. 

Former RCMP officer Bernie Herman, left, enters the Court of King’s Bench on the second day of his trial in Prince Albert, Sask., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. The first-degree murder trial is set to hear information about an autopsy on Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

Bernie Herman, 55, has pleaded not guilty in the 2021 death of 26-year-old Braden Herman in Prince Albert, Sask.

The two men are not related.

Court has heard Braden Herman’s naked body was found in an isolated area of Little Red River Park, on the outskirts of the province’s third largest city. 

Police have testified he was shot, had two large bruises on his upper chest and other injuries. 

The trial was told the two men met on Facebook and often shared a bed after Braden Herman moved in with the veteran officer and his family in 2018. 

Images found on Bernie Herman’s phone show what appear to be Snapchat messages from Braden Herman. Const. Riley Babott with Calgary police, who analyzed the device, read the text on the images into court.

The messages include explicit sexual context, conversations about love and messages about Bernie Herman’s wife.

The officer’s wife, Janice Herman, told court she was hurt by the changing dynamic in her marriage. She said Braden Herman was possessive and would get angry with her husband whenever the officer showed her affection. 

The Mountie’s daughter, Jana MacDonald, called the relationship between the two men “weird” and said they were often holding hands around the house. 

Janice Herman testified that Braden Herman became more violent and unpredictable after she kicked him out of the home in 2019. However, both the officer and his wife continued to have contact with the younger man.

Janice Herman said she socialized with Braden Herman the night before his death. She also dropped off alcohol for him and a friend on May 11, 2021, the day he was killed.

MacDonald said that day Braden Herman sent her a message on social media about her mother. MacDonald said she forwarded the message to her father, who didn’t seem happy that his wife and Braden Herman were in contact.

Court heard that later the same day, the Mountie sent a text to his wife saying he shot someone.

Const. Richard Wittal told the trial that Bernie Herman’s wife and daughter went to his house and showed him the text.

It read: “I shot Braden. It’s over and done with.”

–This story has been clarified. A previous version may have left the impression that autopsy evidence of the victim was to be presented on Wednesday, when in fact it was forensic cellphone information.–

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