Cree woman wrongly convicted of murder finds herself back behind bars - APTN NewsAPTN News

Cree woman wrongly convicted of murder finds herself back behind bars

Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
A Cree woman who walked free from prison nearly a year ago after the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled she had been wrongfully convicted of murder has slid back behind bars.

Connie Oakes is currently in a Saskatchewan jail facing several charges in connection with an alleged assault at a home in Maple Creek, Sask., that resulted in a stabbing, according to Saskatchewan RCMP.

Oakes, who is from Nekaneet First Nation, was set free by Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench on April 29, 2016, after having a second-degree murder charge stayed. The stay meant the charge could only be reactivated within a year and Oakes is weeks away from passing the milestone.

Now the Indian residential school survivor finds herself behind bars in relation to an April 5 incident, according to the RCMP.

Oakes, 52, is facing several charges including aggravated assault, forcible confinement, uttering threats and two counts of breaching conditions. Ricky Rockthunder, 35, was charged along with Oakes. Rockthunder is facing charges of aggravated assault, forcible confinement, uttering threats, and breaching conditions.

The RCMP said the local Maple Creek detachment arrested Oakes and Rockthunder after receiving a complaint that a male had been stabbed in a residence.

APTN has learned the victim is in his early 20s and was allegedly slashed in the head.

Oakes and Rockthunder are scheduled to appear in Swift Current, Sask., provincial court on April 10.

They remain in custody until then.

After she was released from federal prison following her wrongful murder conviction, Oakes said she wanted to get her life back on track. She planned to focus on raising her last remaining living son and care for the ranch where her elderly adoptive mother lived.

At the time of her initial arrest for the murder, Oakes was dealing with addiction issues and had a record of numerous run-ins with police and the courts.

Oakes was charged in 2012 with the murder of Casey Armstrong, who was found murdered in the bathroom of his Medicine Hat, Alta., trailer. The cause of death was a puncture wound through the neck.

With no murder weapon, DNA or fingerprint evidence, the Medicine Hat police built their case against Oakes on the testimony of an intellectually challenged woman named Wendy Scott. Scott pleaded guilty to involvement in Armstrong’s killing and claimed she watched Oakes stab the man through the neck.

Scott later recanted in an affidavit that said she didn’t believe Oakes was at the trailer at the time of the killing.

The Alberta Court of Appeal struck Scott’s guilty plea, overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial in 2015. The Crown requested a stay of Scott’s charges this past January.

The Alberta Court of Appeal overturned Oakes conviction and ordered a new trial on April 6, 2016.

Oakes’ second-oldest son Joseph Carry, 23, died from cancer while she was behind bars at the Edmonton Institution for Women in 2015. Her oldest son Jameson John died on Halloween night in 2002.


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