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'Hard to explain:' Accused in woman's death at Edmonton hotel says sex was consensual

EDMONTON — A man accused of killing a woman in a hotel has testified that he was shocked to find her bloody and lifeless body in his room's bathtub after paying her for consensual sex. Bradley Barton, 52, of Mississauga, Ont.

EDMONTON — A man accused of killing a woman in a hotel has testified that he was shocked to find her bloody and lifeless body in his room's bathtub after paying her for consensual sex.

Bradley Barton, 52, of Mississauga, Ont., has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in the death of Cindy Gladue. The body of the 36-year-old Metis and Cree mother was discovered at Edmonton's Yellowhead Inn in June 2011.

"It's very hard to explain," Barton, a former long-distance truck driver, told a jury Monday.

"I have never seen anything like it before in my entire life. My mind was going 100 miles a minute."

Two nights before, Barton said, he had checked into the hotel after a trip hauling furniture from Idaho.

Barton, tall with grey-and-white hair, said in a grizzly voice that he and some co-workers went for drinks at a nearby bar. He later went outside to have a smoke.

"I noticed a man walking around, picking up cigarette butts and stuff like that," Barton said.

"I briefly had a conversation with him ... I asked him if he had any lady friends."

The man rode off on a bicycle and returned a short time later with Gladue, Barton said, and a deal was struck for sex.

"Her name was Cindy. We chit-chatted and I asked her rate," he testified.

Barton said the man told him the rate was $100, but they agreed to $60.

He told court that he and Gladue had consensual sex and she left. The next day, he called her again and she returned to the hotel.

It was after the second night that he found her dead in the tub, he said.

Medical experts have already testified that Gladue bled to death from a severe wound in her vagina.

This is the second trial for Barton in relation to Gladue's death. His first trial in 2015 sparked rallies and calls for justice for Indigenous women. The case ended up before the Supreme Court of Canada. The high court ordered in 2019 that Barton be retried.

GRAPHIC WARNING: The following details may disturb some readers.

Barton said sex on the first night with Galdue involved using four of his fingers at once "up to my knuckles."

He said Gladue was "bubbly" when she returned the second night. She met him at the bar and they had a few beers.

On the way back to his room, Barton asked a co-worker if he "wanted a piece of this," he said. The man declined and Barton, married with two sons, said he warned the man "what happens on the road, stays on the road."

That second night, Barton testified, he put all five fingers into her vagina. About 10 minutes later, he noticed blood on his hand, he said.

He testified that he asked Gladue if she had her period, then told her he wasn't interested in having sex and would not be paying her "because there was nothing completed."

Barton said he washed his hands and went to sleep. He described himself as a heavy sleeper and said he woke up the next morning and found her in the tub.

"I see Cindy lying in the tub, blood everywhere," Barton testified.

A gynecologist and a medical examiner previously told the jury that Gladue suffered an 11-centimetre tear to her vaginal wall. They said it was like nothing they had seen before in their years of work.

Dr. Erin Bader, who works at Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital, testified that the wound was due to excessive force. 

The jury also heard about the search history on Barton's laptop up to nine days before Gladue was found dead.

There were 191 entries, including searches and links to videos of vaginas being torn or ripped by large objects.

Justice Stephen Hillier has warned jurors they should not make their decision based on character, even if Barton's search history gives them a poor impression.

Barton's lawyer, Dino Bottos, said in his opening statement Monday that jurors should keep an open mind.

Bottos said all they need to determine is whether Gladue consented to sex and whether Barton foresaw that what he was doing could harm her.

The trial is scheduled for another month. Barton is to continue his testimony for the next few days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press