Saint-Charles man accused in Brady Francis’s death to enter plea in August

Brady Francis’s mom, Jessica Perley (left) and sister Sara Perley-Francis, attended Maurice Johnson’s first court appearance in Moncton Provincial Court on Tuesday. They’re hoping to get closure from Francis’s death. (Radio-Canada)

Plea postponed for Saint-Charles man accused in Brady Francis’s death

A 56-year-old Saint-Charles man charged after the hit-and-run death of Brady Francis will now enter a plea in late August.

Maurice Johnson, who is charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident, was scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday, but he was not present when the case was called in Moncton provincial court.

His lawyer, Gilles Lemieux, appeared on his behalf, and a new plea date was set for Aug. 21.

Johnson was issued a summons in late June, 115 days after the 22-year-old Francis, of Elsipogtog First Nation, was killed.

Family members said they would be back again in court on Aug. 21 to see the case through and to get closure.

“I just hope and wish that he just pleads guilty and just ends it,” Francis’s mother, Jessica Perley, said. “It’s gone on way too long.”

Francis was found dead by the side of the road in Saint-Charles, about 12 kilometres north of the reserve and about 100 kilometres north of Moncton.

It’s believed he was waiting for a ride home Feb. 24, when he was struck on Saint-Charles South Road.

“He was amazing, he was everything,” said Francis’s younger sister, Sara Perley-Francis.

Brady Francis was 22 when he was struck and killed Feb. 24 by a driver who left the scene. (Facebook photo)

Following Francis’s death, rallies and vigils were organized across the province, and people pleaded for the driver to come forward and confess.

Family members said they were overwhelmed by the support from their community and the number of people who showed up at the Moncton courthouse on Tuesday.

‘He didn’t deserve this’

“I really hope Brady’s family gets the justice they deserve,” said Keora Doucette, a friend of Francis.

“As we all know the justice system has failed us many times before, but I’m very positive there will be a really good outcome out of this, not just for the community but for Brady as well, because he didn’t deserve this.”

Keora Doucette was a friend of Brady Francis and said the justice system needs to do more for the Indigenous community. (Radio-Canada)

Doucette was referring to the Tina Fontaine case in Winnipeg. She was just 15 when her body was found in Winnipeg’s Red River, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks in August 2014.

There was also Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old who was shot on a rural Saskatchewan farmyard in August 2016.

“I pray to God that justice system will understand we have rights too,” Doucette said. “Our people are dying and nothing’s been done.”

4-month investigation

News of the charge was met with feelings of relief and vindication in the Elsipogtog community after a four-month investigation produced its first charge.

“With any investigation, it takes the time it takes to conduct a proper investigation,” Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh, media relations officer with the New Brunswick RCMP, said in an interview with CBC News after the charge was laid.

A sign at CC’s Entertainment Centre, where Francis worked, counted the days without a charge being laid after he was killed. (CBC)

“In this particular case, it was an exhaustive investigation. Our investigators spoke with several people and they reviewed quite a bit of evidence, and we believe the evidence gathered warrants the charge that [was] laid.”

Source: CBC News

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RCMP charge man in connection with hit and run death of Brady Francis

Brady Francis, of Elsipogtog First Nation, is shown in this undated handout image. CP/Garnett Augustine

A 56-year-old man is facing charges in connection with the hit-and-run death of Brady Francis from Elsipogtog First Nation.

According to media reports Maurice Johnson of Saint-Charles, N.B., has been charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily harm or death.

Francis a well-liked 22-year-old was hit by a pickup truck on Feb. 24 as he departed a party in Saint-Charles, N.B., a predominantly francophone town about 12 kilometres south of the Elsipogtog reserve.

RCMP say it’s believed the Mi’kmaq youth was waiting for a drive home when he was struck.

Johnson is scheduled to appear in Moncton Provincial Court on July 10, 2018 to enter a plea.

Following Francis’s death, rallies and vigils were organized across the province, and people pleaded for the driver who hit Brady to come forward and confess.

Social media posts were circulating following the incident with pictures of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine and Francis side by side, and many were tweeting #justiceforbrady, echoing hashtags used after the recent Prairie verdicts.

Earlier this year, RCMP completed an investigation into the hit-and-run and handed the file over to Crown prosecutors to review possible charges.

This is the first charge laid in the case — four months after Francis was struck.

The news was welcomed with relief in the community.

“We’re extremely happy,” said Ruth Levi, a band councillor and director of social services at the Elsipogtog reserve.

Police say Johnson is the same person that was arrested and released without charges back in March. It was also his truck that was seized as part of the RCMP investigation.

Mi’kmaq community on edge over hit-and-run death of Brady Francis

Brady Francis, of Elsipogtog First Nation, is shown in this undated handout image. CP/HO-Garnett Augustine

Elsipogtog First Nation seeks justice for Brady Francis killed Saturday in Saint-Charles

A grieving New Brunswick First Nation is anxiously awaiting the results of a police probe into the hit-and-run death of a popular young man, with many saying they are seeking a justice they felt was eluded in the killings of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine.

Brady Francis, 22, was hit by a pickup truck Saturday as he departed a party in Saint-Charles, a predominantly francophone town about 12 kilometres south of the Elsipogtog reserve.

Social media posts were circulating Wednesday with pictures of Fontaine, Boushie and Francis side by side, and many were tweeting #justiceforbrady, echoing hashtags used after the recent jury verdicts on the Prairies.

“I’m just saying that I hope history doesn’t repeat itself,” Garnett Augustine, Francis’s employer, said Wednesday.

Ruth Levi, a band councillor and the director of social services in Elsipogtog, said in an interview that the Mi’kmaq community is calling for charges in the death.

“We’re hurting, we left a very fine, wonderful young man. Our youth are hurting, the whole community is,” said the 57-year-old community leader in a telephone interview.

“We’re keeping an eye out for the results of the police investigation.”

She said community members attended a fundraiser Monday evening at CC’s Entertainment Centre on the reserve to raise over $31,000 for funeral expenses for the young man’s funeral.

Many people will be wearing white T-shirts with the logo “Justice For Brady,” at a funeral planned for Saturday, she added.

Levi was among the community members who drove to the scene on Saturday night in Saint-Charles.

Word rapidly spread that a GMC pickup truck had struck Francis as he walked away from an evening gathering.

Levi said family members have informed her that Francis had called his father, asking for a drive home and that the young man was awaiting the arrival of his relatives to bring him home.

Augustine, Francis’s employer at the entertainment centre, said he rushed to the scene after the incident, and witnessed paramedics trying to revive the young man he referred to as “my little right-hand man.”

Like Levi, Augustine said community members are deeply concerned by the death, and are eager to know precisely what occurred.

“I’m hoping for justice,” he said, adding that the recent not guilty verdicts in the 2016 death of Boushie in Saskatchewan and the 2014 death of Fontaine in Winnipeg are on the minds of many in the First Nation community.

“It’s hard. The whole community is shattered,” he said.

A memorial for Brady Francis, 22,. Morganne Campbell/ Global News

Said one Twitter user: “All we can do is pray that Canada gets this one right.”

Only scant details have been made available so far about what occurred.

Police said in a news release on Tuesday that Francis was “a pedestrian” in Saint-Charles, N.B., on the evening when he was struck.

RCMP initially said they found a GMC truck sign at the scene, and have since seized a truck as part of the investigation.

The Mounties also said in a news release they are analyzing a key piece of evidence and have been conducting interviews.

Still, emotions have been running high, said Levi.

She said she and about 40 other community residents went to the house of the alleged driver of the truck on the morning after the incident.

Francis’s grandfather urged the crowd to disperse, and Levi helped to arrange a candlelight vigil on the reserve.

“We’re preparing for Saturday’s funeral … Brady’s body will be home tomorrow and we’ll get the crisis team ready,” she said.

“This young man took the appropriate steps to come home. He called his parents … and while he’s talking to his Dad, all of a sudden the phone goes dead. That’s something we don’t want people to forget,” she said.

— Story by Michael Tutton in Halifax.

The Canadian Press 

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