It's just past the two-hour mark in a police interrogation video when accused killer Greg Fertuck grasps that a meeting only days earlier, where he told a supposed crime boss that he murdered his wife, was secretly filmed by police.
"This is a covert camera," RCMP Staff Sgt. Charles Lerat explains to Fertuck in the video, as Fertuck watched a clip of himself on a laptop telling the "crime boss" — actually an undercover police officer — that he had shot Sheree Fertuck, his estranged wife.
After a pause, Fertuck asks, "Can I go to the bathroom?"
The interrogation video was shown in Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon Friday, at Fertuck's trial for first-degree murder.
The 68-year-old is accused of killing Sheree on Dec. 7, 2015. The 51-year-old mother of three disappeared that day after heading to work at a gravel pit near Kenaston, Sask.
Greg Fertuck disclosed to undercover police posing as criminals in a so-called "Mr. Big sting" that he shot Sheree in the shoulder and back of her head, and then hid her body in the bush near the gravel pit, court has heard. He later changed that story and pleaded not guilty when charged with her murder.
Fertuck was arrested June 24, 2019 and charged with Sheree's murder. On Friday, the four-hour interview conducted by Lerat on June 25 was played at his trial.
'I believe you killed Sheree'
The interrogation began at 5 p.m. that day. Lerat, a veteran RCMP interviewer, had done a six-hour interrogation of Fertuck on Oct. 25, 2017, when he was first arrested on suspicion of killing Sheree.
He was released. Within a year, the RCMP began their Mr. Big sting to manoeuvre Fertuck into revealing his suspected role in Sheree's disappearance.
Lerat began the 2019 interrogation by asking Fertuck if he knew why he was there.
"They say that I murdered my wife," Fertuck, wearing glasses, a short-sleeved green shirt and jeans, is seen answering in the video played in court.
Lerat spends the next 90 minutes building a rapport with Fertuck. The men discuss their respective careers, hunting, mutual acquaintances and their children.
Lerat orders A&W burgers and fries and the men continue to exchange pleasantries as they eat.
In earlier testimony, court heard that Fertuck was arrested on the western edge of Saskatoon after returning from an unsuccessful search for the murder weapon with three undercover officers he believed were his criminal colleagues.
Lerat asks Fertuck how he felt about being arrested.
"I was shocked," he says.
"I was out riding with my three friends — we'd gone out to Eagle Creek to look at old fishing spots. They [the police] must have been following my friend's truck."
Later, Lerat tells Fertuck he still has the same belief he had during the 2017 interrogation.
"I believe you killed Sheree," the officer said.
It's at the one hour and 40 minute mark of the interrogation that Lerat tells Fertuck police recovered shell casings at the gravel pit. This has never been revealed before. He then quizzes Greg about whether he owns a .38-calibre revolver or rifle, which Greg denies.
Lerat testified that was a deliberate misdirection designed to make Fertuck think that was the calibre of the shells recovered.
About 20 minutes later in the video — at the 2:02 mark — Lerat plays a video clip for Fertuck on a laptop. It shows him in a hotel room with the man he believes is the crime boss. Fertuck can be heard describing his confrontation with Sheree in the gravel pit, saying that he shot her and then disposed of her body.
The clip is from a "crime boss scenario" video which was played earlier in Fertuck's trial. In that video, Fertuck is seen meeting with the crime boss to ask for help in disposing of Sheree's remains.
Lerat asks in the interrogation who Fertuck is talking to on the video. "I don't know," he replies. Lerat asks whether he's talking about shooting Sheree. "I don't think so," Fertuck replies.
Lerat tells Fertuck that he's watching a covert recording taken by police. Fertuck asks to go to the bathroom.
Lerat testified that at that point he judged Fertuck to be in "fight or flight — he just wanted out of the situation."
Fertuck is escorted by another officer to the washroom.
2:13: At this point in the video, Fertuck continues to tell Lerat that he doesn't recognize the man he is talking to on the tape. He claims not to know where they were talking, or when.
Lerat plays back a clip on the laptop. Sheree was "taking me to the cleaners," Fertuck says. He says that he shot her.
At this point in the interview, Fertuck acknowledges to Lerat that he's talking about shooting Sheree.
"I said that I did, but I didn't. I said it just to make a good impression," he says.
"They asked about my wife. I said I shot her, but I made it up."
Fertuck then claims that he had only just met the supposed crime boss that day. He refers to two other undercover officers as having arranged the meeting. He says he does not know their last names.
Fertuck also says that he told the crime boss he shot Sheree with a .22-calibre rife, but claims he made that up.
"I made up a story just to impress him. They said he was the boss and I didn't want to get fired."
2:19: Lerat leaves at this point and then returns with a bagged piece of evidence. It's a 25-round clip from from a .22-calibre rifle.
"Why do I have this in my possession? It's yours," he tells Fertuck. "Do you know these guys [the undercover officers]? They said you gave them this magazine."
In the crime boss video, Fertuck is heard telling Mr. Big that the magazine from the murder weapon is at his house and needs to be destroyed.
"They must have framed me. I actually trusted those guys," Fertuck tells Lerat in the interrogation.
'It doesn't sound good for me'
Over the next 40 minutes, Lerat continues to press Fertuck on the identity of the man in the hotel, what he told him about shooting Sheree and where he took her body.
Lerat then shifts gears and quizzes Fertuck about how much he earned working with the undercover officers. Fertuck insists that all they did was drive restored cars and SUVs between small towns.
Fertuck says he made $20 an hour, or about $60 a day.
"You met this guy once and then told him you killed your wife, so you wouldn't get fired, over $60 a day," Lerat says.
"I know it doesn't sound good for me," Fertuck replies.
Under questioning by prosecutor Carla Dewar, Lerat said Friday that he chose not to tell Greg that all of the characters he encountered were undercover police because Fertuck had proven adept at lying. Telling him about the undercover officers would have only triggered more lies, Lerat said.
"Given his reaction to the two new pieces of evidence — the hotel room video and the magazine — [he showed] his ability to think of a response," he said.
Rather, Lerat said he chose to focus on confirming that Fertuck did not ever feel threatened by the undercover police posing as criminals and that he did not fear them.
The judge-only trial, presided over by Justice Richard Danyliuk, resumes Monday. It began Sept. 7.