A criminal defence lawyer is voicing her concerns about a charity motorcycle ride in southern Alberta being held to honour a murder victim.
Tonii Roulston represents Tyler Hogan, the 41-year-old Lethbridge man charged with second-degree murder in the death of a nine-month old baby boy.
The case is currently on the second day of a five-day preliminary trial to determine if there’s enough evidence to advance to trial. All the evidence presented in court is currently under a publication ban
“Our concern is that there is a publication ban in place with respect to the preliminary inquiry, and the importance of that is so as not to taint the jury,” Roulston said outside the Lethbridge courthouse.
“We weren’t even aware [of the ride] until it was brought to our attention.”
Roulston is speaking out after a local motorcycle group, Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), announced a ride in honour of the young victim, Austin Lucas Wright.
“Tyler Hogan, and any individual accused, is presumed innocent util after trial, where he is found guilty or determined to be not guilty,” Roulston said.
“That’s an important principle that we need to remember, regardless of whatever emotions are in play.”
BACA members say they were asked by the victim’s family to help pay tribute to their son.
“We’re not pointing any fingers at anyone,” BACA’s Lethbridge chapter president, who would only give the name of “Cowgirl” (BACA members prefer to remain anonymous due to concerns about possible retailation over their commitment to fighting child abuse), said.
“We’re here at the request of the family because apparently they ride, and their friends ride.”
“Cowgirl” says the group has no intention of drawing attention to the accused, but that their mission is to simply honour the victim and support his family.
“We are in no way, shape, or form a vigilante group,” she said.
“We’re a bunch of concerned people who happen to ride motorcycles and love kids.”
As for the timing of the ride, “Cowgirl” says the family selected the date.
BACA members have not been in the courtroom for any of the preliminary trial proceedings.
The ride is set to take place Saturday, Apr. 22, travelling from Lethbridge to Fort Macleod and back.