The Magic Gun
Settler legality, Forensic Science, and the Stanley Trial
Keywords:criminal law, evidence, forensic science, expert evidence, witnesses, jury instruction, systemic racism, anti-Indigenous bias, RCMP investigation, hang fire defence, accident, trial judge
This article assesses the RCMP’s forensic investigation into the death of Colten Boushie, the physical evidence at Gerald Stanley’s trial, and the differential treatment of Indigenous and settler Canadian witnesses throughout the process. The Stanley trial played out against a backdrop of concerns about systemic racism and anti-Indigenous bias within the Canadian legal system. Research also documents that forensic science is vulnerable to cognitive and contextual biases. This article documents how these currents combined in Stanley, such that serious questions arise about the quality of police work in this case; and well-established legal safeguards against wrongful verdicts were not engaged.