The public will have to wait on the sentence for a former RCMP officer convicted of manslaughter in the death of his lover.

A sentencing hearing took place Thursday at Court of Kings Bench in Prince Albert for Bernie Herman over his conviction in the killing of Braden Herman.

It was expected a sentence would be handed out, however, lawyers had vastly different ideas on what sentence was appropriate.

The defense is seeking 4-6 years in prison while the Crown is asking the courts to sentence Bernie Herman to a life sentence for killing Braden Herman.

Victim Impact Statements read

Before lawyers argued over sentencing, victim impact statements were read in court.

The statement of Braden Herman’s adopted mother Mary Herman was read by the Crown.

“I raised Braden as my own and loved him as my own,” the statement read. The statement would go on to describe the moment she found out Braden was killed. “I still can not answer calls at night,” the statement said. “I will miss him every day. Why did this happen?”

Several issues were discussed by lawyers for the court to grapple with over what sentence would be appropriate in the matter.

The arguments could be boiled down to three discussions – that the killing was argued to be a “near murder,” that the killing was a result of intimate partner violence with discussions on who was culpable of the relationship violence, and arguments on whether Bernie Herman was in a position of trust and/or privilege over Braden Herman.

Killing “near murder”

The Crown admits a life sentence is a “high ask”, but argued this was “as close to a murder” that you could get in the legal system calling it a “near murder.”

The defense argued that many manslaughter cases are tragic and violent. The defense lawyer pointed to the Criminal Code, which put mandatory minimums for manslaughter involving firearms at 4 years. He says that mandatory minimum could have been set higher if the court deemed it appropriate. The defense also pointed to the court determining Bernie Herman may have been provoked in the killing.

Intimate Partner Violence

The crown then pointed to a legal system in Canada that is trying to be harsher on violent crimes involving intimate partners.

However, both lawyers would point to abusive aspects in the relationship perpetrated by both Bernie and Braden.

The judge himself questioned whether this case fit within what is typically seen in intimate-partner violence matters.

Privilege vs. Vulnerable

The crown also painted a picture of an older man who lived in privilege taking advantage of a younger man who had a difficult upbringing. They argued Braden was vulnerable because he was Indigenous, homeless, and was in a same sex relationship with an RCMP officer who didn’t want to come out.

Meanwhile, the defense talked about Bernie Herman’s attendance at a Day School and how he was the victim of abuse. The defense says Bernie is not someone who came from privilege and says “overcoming adversity does not mean you are privileged.”

Life sentence for manslaughter unprecedented?

Neither lawyer provided a previous manslaughter conviction that carried a life-sentence. A quick search of the Canadian legal system also didn’t produce any results.

The defense brought a few manslaughter cases they deemed as particularly heinous – none of them had a sentence greater than 18 years.

Herman addresses court

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Bernie Herman addressed the court in a very brief statement.

Herman apologized to everyone affected by what happened and also apologized to the court for the time and resources used.

The judge is scheduled to make his decision on the sentence on June 18.

(Top Photo – Bernie Herman leaves court after receiving his manslaughter conviction in January.  Photo by Joel Willick)