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Michael Casselman Denied Bail. Publication ban on evidence imposed

Steffanie Petroni for local2 sault ste. marie
September 10th, 2013 at 11:11pm | Last Updated September 12th, 2013 at 8:52am

Michael Casselman - September 10, 2013A publication ban prohibits the publishing of evidence taken, information given or representation given over the period of this case.

It was a lovely, sunny evening that last long weekend of the summer. Twenty-eight-year-old Christa Michaud surely felt the warm sun on her face as she was riding her bike along McNabb Street during the final moments of her life. Just before 7:30 p.m. a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 flew across the curb and put out Christa’s light forever.

Fifty-four-year-old Michael Casselman was arrested at the scene and charged with one count of operating a motor vehicle and exceeding the legal limit causing death. However, as a result of the ongoing investigation Mr. Casselman has been charged with an additional count of impaired driving causing death.

“I know friends and family will want to know what’s happening in the courtroom. You can share that with them but not online. While facebook is a common social media information shared from this hearing on it is considered a breach of publication.”

Assistant Crown Attorney, Dana Peterson is addressing the 55 plus people who are family and friends of Christa Lukenda Michaud who streamed into the courthouse today.

They crammed into the tiny courtroom on the second floor of the Sault Ste. Marie courthouse, anticipating Mr. Casselman’s appearance in bail court today - their first glimpse of the man that has been accused of ending Christa’s life.

The bail hearing has not been called to order yet. Peterson continues, “You’ll be hearing evidence about the police investigation that may upset you. But remember, this isn’t the trial of Michael Casselman this is the bail hearing of Michael Casselman. Everyone is entitled to bail. But it is my job to reason why someone shouldn’t receive it.”

Court was called to order just before 10:30 a.m. and counsel for the accused, Bruce Willson, requested a ten minute break to reorganize the seating in courtroom 9. About 10 family members and friends of Casselman were seated in the hallway unsure of where to sit. Christa’s supporters had filled all the seats in the courtroom. With a bit of shuffling enough seating was freed up for the accused’s supporters and the bail hearing resumed. The courtroom was silent as everyone waited for Mr. Casselman to enter. Someone was quietly weeping.

He is a slender man and stands about 5 feet, 10 inches tall. He has a longish crew cut and wears ‘Buddy Holly’ type glasses. He walks in wearing running shoes, jeans and a beige t-shirt. His wrists are handcuffed and ankles shackled. They will stay that way through the entirety of today’s bail hearing. His face is pale and if his head isn’t bowed, he is staring out the window across from the prisoner box. Every so often his thick black eyebrows jump up or his brow will furrow. He doesn’t make eye contact with anyone.

The bail hearing is lengthy. During the morning the court hears from the investigating officer on the scene that tragic evening. As well the first person of three individuals willing to serve as surety on behalf of Mr. Casselman came forward. Court adjourns for an hour and resumes at 2 p.m. when the final two individuals willing to act as Mr. Casselman’s surety take the stand.

It is close to 4 p.m. when Counsel presents their closing submission before the bench.

Assistant Crown Attorney, Dana Peterson, speaks first. As she enters the conclusion of her submission her voice drops, becoming lower and tight. Her fair complexion deepens. The right side of her face and the length of her neck become red. She completes her submission and takes her seat. She swipes a tissue from the Kleenex box sitting on the table. She brushes it along the sides of her face and presses it to her nose. Bruce Wilson approaches the bench with his closing remarks and Justice of the Peace, Marcel Bedard, calls for a 15 minute recess so that he may consider what has been presented this day.

When His Worship returns to the bench Mr. Casselman is brought back into the courtroom. He is led back to the prisoner box where he remains standing, still in shackles.

The room is silent as His Worship announces his decision. “You shall remain in detention. Bail denied.”

There is not an eruption of joy or a wail of grief to be heard. Mr. Casselman is led out of the courtroom. Nobody moves until Mr. Casselman’s brother gets up and follows after his younger brother. Mr. Casselman’s daughter is quietly weeping as she leaves the courtroom.

Christa’s family begins to realize what has just happened. Her husband, Ryan, is thanking Ms. Peterson and then drops his arms across her shoulders, hugging her. He is crying and his body shakes with each sob.

Outside of the courthouse Bruce Willson is not impressed. “We’ll be filing a bail review immediately and I expect that he’ll be released in a few week’s time. That is what the law is compelled to do. Get people out of jail.”

After such a tragedy and after a day like today, it is hard to see where justice could possibly lie in the courts. Certainly, nobody left the courthouse this evening feeling like they had won.

Mr. Casselman will be appearing before the courts on Tuesday, September 17 at 10 a.m. via video remand.


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