14 days, 35 witnesses: Who has testified so far at Greg Fertuck's 1st-degree murder trial

·12 min read
Greg and Sheree Fertuck on their honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta in 1991. Sheree disappeared in December 2015. Greg is now accused of first-degree murder. (Submitted by Teaka White - image credit)
Greg and Sheree Fertuck on their honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta in 1991. Sheree disappeared in December 2015. Greg is now accused of first-degree murder. (Submitted by Teaka White - image credit)

Crown prosecutors have called 35 witnesses since Greg Fertuck's first-degree murder trial began on Sept. 7, as the prosecution tries to build its case that he killed his estranged wife.

Fertuck, who turned 68 while in custody this weekend, is on trial at Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon, accused of killing Sheree Fertuck, 51.

He has pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution's theory is that Greg shot his ex-wife twice during a confrontation at the gravel pit near Kenaston, Sask., where she worked, and then moved her body to another location in the country.

Sheree was last seen on Dec. 7, 2015. Her semi-truck was found at the gravel pit the next day, but her body has never been found.

The Crown's theory is based on disclosures Greg made to undercover police officers posing as criminals in an elaborate operation known as a "Mr. Big" sting in 2019.

The judge-only trial, being presided over by Justice Richard Danyliuk, began with a voir dire — a sort of trial within the trial, which allows Danyliuk to assess the admissibility of the Crown's evidence.

Key evidence at the mid-point of the trial includes two .22-calibre shell casings found at the gravel pit, a spot of blood found on the tailgate liner of Greg's truck that witnesses say matches Sheree's DNA, and Greg's admission in a videotaped RCMP interview that he was in fact at the gravel pit the day that Sheree was last seen.

The trial, scheduled for eight weeks, continues Monday.

These are the witnesses called in its first 14 days, in order of appearance:

1. Const. Elizabeth Cook: The first RCMP officer on the scene at the gravel pit near Kenaston.

Cook took the missing person report from Juliann Sorotski, Sheree's mother, at the family farm near Kenaston. Sorotski suggested to Cook that if Sheree had been abducted, "it would have been quite a struggle because she could handle any man."

2. Colleen Lyons: RCMP sergeant based in Saskatoon who co-ordinated the early search from the city detachment. Lyons did not go to the scene.

Sheree's disappearance was initially treated as a missing person case, not a homicide.

Court of Queen's Bench
Court of Queen's Bench

3. Sgt. Ryan Clunie: RCMP identification officer who photographed the gravel pit two days after Sheree was reported missing.

He described the scene as "extremely contaminated" by civilian and police searchers, with overlapping tire and foot tracks. He also noted that people had already been inside Sheree's truck and the payloader used to move gravel into the truck box.

4. Cpl. Terry Heroux: RCMP identification officer who assisted Clunie in photographing the scene, including the payloader and Sheree's semi-truck, and with processing scene evidence.

He testified that Sheree's disappearance was still viewed as a missing person case when they arrived.

5. Lanna Fertuck: Youngest daughter of Greg and Sheree Fertuck. She testified by video that she immediately suspected her father was involved in Sheree's disappearance.

"My dad would be very violent with her," Lanna testified.

She lived with Sheree and her brother Lucas in Saskatoon. In her testimony, she described Sheree's work patterns and detailed the day that she went missing.

She went to the gravel pit on Dec. 8, 2015, with Sheree's mom and found the semi-truck with a jacket, phone and keys inside.

6. Martin Koyle: Worked with Texcana Logistics, the company that hired Sheree to haul gravel in the months before she disappeared. The company was developing a fertilizer terminal for Blair's Fertilizer near Hanley, Sask., and needed a lot of gravel.

Koyle explained that Sheree originally lost the contract to a local competitor, Jeff Sagen, but was later awarded work when Sagen's shipments were not the correct volume.

7. Darren Sorotski: Sheree's younger brother. He worked seasonally with her in the family gravel business, crushing gravel and using a payloader to transfer it to Sheree's truck. Along with Juliann, their mother, he was among the last to see to Sheree on Dec. 7, 2015. He was initially an RCMP suspect in Sheree's disappearance.

Submitted
Submitted

8. Ron Matycio: Sheree's uncle. He spoke with her by phone the morning she disappeared. He ran into Greg Fertuck after that, who told Matycio that he wasn't joining the search. Matycio described Sheree as "a generous lady, family oriented."

9. Lauren Fertuck: Sheree's eldest daughter. Her video testimony was split into two portions because of technical difficulties.

She testified about verbal threats she heard Greg heap on Sheree. That included him saying, "I'll gut you like a fish," she testified. She also described her close relationship with Sheree, saying they texted or called daily, and how her relationship with Greg deteriorated after Sheree disappeared.

10. Cpl. Pascale Lauriault: RCMP search co-ordinator. She did the ground search near the semi-truck in the gravel pit and used ground-penetrating radar to look for Sheree's body in the gravel piles. Lauriault also participated in a search of the Sorotski farm.

11. Gary Decker: Lives at Clearspring Hutterite Colony and worked as Sheree's long-time mechanic. He said he was not aware of any talk about Sheree and Greg reconciling.

He said he spoke with Sheree by phone the morning she disappeared about a power outage at the farm. He recalled no animosity between Sheree and Jeff Sagen, her gravel-business rival.

12. Eugene Whitehead: Pastor and head of the Kenaston volunteer fire department. He helped with the search at the gravel pit, including using long metal rods to probe gravel piles for her body.

He had no information about a potential crime, and instead believed that Sheree may have been buried by a collapsed gravel wall. He testified there were no signs of a scuffle or struggle at the scene.

13. Dylan Desrosiers: Worked for Prairie Boyz Excavating. He was hired by Sheree before her disappearance to help haul gravel with one of her trucks on the Hanley fertilizer project. He also got instructions on how to operate a payloader. He explained to the court how the payloader stored data on the amount of gravel in the bucket.

14. Dennis Powder: Kenaston searcher and the volunteer who moved Darren Sorotski's payloader the morning that searchers first came to the gravel pit. He got permission from Juliann Sorotski to move and use the payloader, and shifted small amounts of gravel while searching for Sheree.

CBC
CBC

15. Cpl. Tracey Opheim: Investigator who reached out to Affinity Credit Union about Sheree's account activity. Cpl. Opheim also helped gather forensic evidence at the Sorotski farm for DNA comparison, including a hairbrush and a razor used by Sheree. She testified about how Sheree stayed at the farm in the summer months when hauling gravel, rather than drive back to Saskatoon.

16. Cpl. Linda Schmalz: Assisted in gathering forensic evidence at Sorotski farm, where Sheree stayed in the summer while hauling gravel, including the razor with blood that was used to match DNA found in back of Greg's truck.

Cpl. Schmalz also drove around the different areas that Sheree could have been, including from the Sorotski farm to the pit, and to the Blair fertilizer project site at Hanley.

17. Shalane Shackleton: Workers' Compensation Board officer who called Greg Fertuck at 1:20 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2015. The cellphone tower ping from this phone call established that Greg was at the gravel pit the afternoon when Sheree vanished.

18. Const. Tanya Gordon: Monitored tracking devices on Greg Fertuck's truck, car and cellphone. She gathered video from security cameras around Saskatoon used to show where and when he travelled through the city on Dec. 7.

19. Adam Sarich: Owner of the welding company at Unity, Sask., where Greg worked. He spoke about how Greg was a competent driver who got along with co-workers and was "not one to hold back — he would speak his mind."

20. Clayton Fertuck: A distant cousin of Greg Fertuck. He testified that Greg pestered him for ammunition in 2015 and 2016. When he didn't respond, Greg called him a stupid boy, Clayton testified. Clayton said he told Greg not to call him that.

The two exchanged words over text message, with Greg eventually saying, "better think about how long you want to be around, pilgrim."

Clayton took the text messages to the police, believing he had received a "possible murder threat."

21. Paul Jones: RCMP officer present at searches and seizures at the gravel pit and Sorotski farm. He described Sheree's room at the Sorotski farm and seizing an invoice detailing the times that Greg hauled gravel for Sheree. He narrated a photo tour of Sheree's home in Saskatoon, where he recovered a handwritten will done by Sheree.

Court of Queen's Bench
Court of Queen's Bench

22. Susan Borys: Crime lab DNA expert who said the DNA taken from the blood spot in Greg's truck was "identical" to the profile taken from the DNA on Sheree's razor. The chance of the sample matching with an unrelated Caucasian Canadian at random would be exceptionally small, she testified — one in 68 quintillion (68 with 18 zeroes).

23. Daniel Aspel: A senior engineer with SaskTel who talked about the signal strength of cellphone towers near Kenaston, in Saskatoon near Millar Avenue and near Greg's home.

He spoke about how the signal strength in rural areas radiates out from cell towers in a bulls-eye fashion, strongest in the centre. He also confirmed that Bell uses SaskTel towers.

24. Tammi Hackl: Sheree's lawyer. Hackl testified that at one point, Sheree asked her to seek to have Greg's wages garnished in an effort to get child support that he wasn't paying. By the time pretrial proceedings began in 2018, Greg reportedly owed $26,000 to $33,000 in unpaid child support.

Hackl said that Sheree also blocked Greg from accessing money, and was determined to settle the legal separation first. He needed her permission to access funds in his locked-in retirement account. Greg allegedly wanted $15,000 of the $427,000 but Sheree wouldn't grant permission, court was told.

25. Const. Darryl Ness: Took a statement from Juliann Sorotski on Dec, 9, 2015, two days after Sheree's disappearance. The meeting lasted about an hour and covered basic questions about Sheree's last known movements, when Sorotski realized something wrong, the family dynamics and how the gravel business works.

26. Blake Nicklin: Now-retired RCMP officer who met with Juliann Sorotski on Dec. 8, just 24 hours after Sheree went missing. He described how Sorotski seemed concerned, and put together an initial timeline about how she and Darren had lunch with Sheree, and how she had planned on heading back gravel pit that afternoon. Juliann also noted that Greg had been physically and emotionally abusive, Nicklin testified.

Greg Fertuck/Facebook
Greg Fertuck/Facebook

27. John McJannet: The McJannet family owns the gravel pit where Sheree had gone to collect gravel, near the family farm. He talked about checking the pit the day after Sheree went missing, walking the perimeter and finding no footprints leading out. He says the pit is not used for parties and he's not aware of hunters using it to sight rifles.

28. Todd Degelman: Saskatoon investment advisor who worked at National Bank. He dealt with both Greg and Sheree, and told RCMP he had been contacted by Greg about withdrawing $7,000. Degelman testified that Greg became "quite rough" when he learned that he could not withdraw the money without spousal consent.

29. Ron Stachowich: Worked with Greg at CN and was a friend who had gone ice fishing with him at Blackstrap and Zelma, and deer hunting near Kenaston and at Turtle Lake. He described Greg as a "pretty accurate shot."

Greg moved in with Stachowich after separating from Sheree and, when drinking, would talk about wanting to "bury the bitch in the north 40." Stachowich eventually asked him to move out after Greg began dating Doris Larocque.

30. Lucas Fertuck: Greg and Sheree's oldest son. He worked as a mechanic. Lucas spoke about Greg's drinking and gambling, and witnessing his abusive behaviour to Sheree. He specifically referenced an incident where Greg threatened to "shoot her between the eyes."

31. Sgt. William Groenen: The RCMP officer who took the formal recorded statement from Juliann Sorotski on Dec. 13, 2015. Juliann died in 2018, so this interviewed was played into the record in court.

In the interview, she describes the day Sheree went missing, saying she drove to the gravel pit with her granddaughter Lanna and found the truck with Sheree's jacket, keys and phone inside, and then called RCMP. At that point, Juliann believed Sheree had been abducted from pit.

32. Sgt. Chad Clark: RCMP major crimes investigator who had primary contact with Greg in the two years after Sheree disappeared. Clark interviewed him two days after Sheree disappeared and described Greg as polite, sober and coherent.

Greg said he hoped Sheree was well, had no idea where she was and that he was not at the gravel pit the day she went missing, Clark testified.

Clark also participated in the Oct. 25, 2017, interview where Greg significantly changed this story.

33. Staff Sgt. Chuck Lerat: Interview specialist who interrogated Greg Fertuck after his arrest on Oct. 25, 2017. This is the interview where Greg admitted he was at the pit the day the Sheree vanished.

He told Lerat that he'd driven out there to pick up five pails of gravel and hoped he'd bump into Sheree to discuss work, but that they never crossed paths. Lerat told Greg during the interview that he believed Greg killed Sheree.

34. Cpl. Keith Hill: The RCMP officer who went with Sgt. Clark to arrest Greg at his Saskatoon home in 2017. He described the circumstances of the arrest and what happened when Greg called his lawyer, Morris Bodnar.

He also spoke about Doris Larocque, Greg's landlady and girlfriend, coming to the detachment to get a removal order for a tracker on her car, and her giving a non-custodial warned statement.

35. Sherry Johnson: Mother-in-law to Sheree's daughter Lauren, she was a close friend of Sheree Fertuck.

Johnson testified on Friday that Sheree had told her, "if anything happens to me, look at Greg. There's something going on. He's gone wacko."

Johnson said that Sheree seemed really scared of him.

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