A file photo of a Northwest Territories highway. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
The Crown has dropped a murder charge against an NWT woman over the December 2019 death of a man on an oilfield service road outside Red Earth Creek, Alberta.
Faisal Aden was shot multiple times after being picked up by Winston Derksen and Deidre Lafferty from Hay River’s South Mackenzie Correctional Centre, a court heard earlier this year.
A jury found Derksen guilty of second-degree murder in February. Two months later, a judge – interpreting the jurors’ verdict – found that Derksen, not Lafferty, had fired the shots that killed Aden.
A murder charge against Lafferty, however, was not dropped at the time.
On Tuesday this week, a day before a preliminary hearing in Red Earth Creek regarding Lafferty’s case, the Crown prosecutor’s office withdrew that charge.
“Ms Lafferty is pleased that after over 2.5 years of being on strict release conditions, the Crown prosecutor’s office has withdrawn all charges against her in a very serious case,” read a statement emailed to Cabin Radio by her lawyer, Telmo dos Santos.
“This was undoubtedly the correct decision and Ms Lafferty can now move on with her life in a positive direction.”
Justice Eldon J Simpson of the King’s Court of Alberta had earlier ruled that Derksen threatened Lafferty and lied to police officers following the shooting of Aden.
Simpson ruled in April that Derksen had left Yellowknife, where both he and Lafferty lived, with a loaded handgun that Lafferty did not know about and didn’t know how to use.
The two were in a relationship, the court had heard. They drove from Yellowknife to High Level then returned north to Hay River to collect Aden before turning back toward Edmonton.
Outside Red Earth Creek, Simpson said, Derksen and Aden “became embroiled in an argument that led to a physical fight.”
The judge concluded Derksen had shot Aden four or five times, after which he and Lafferty continued on to Edmonton, disposing of Aden’s possessions. The two were arrested and charged in March 2020.
Derksen “threatened Deidre Lafferty after the shooting” and “concocted a story,” the judge said, in which Derksen attempted to blame Lafferty for the killing instead.
Lafferty, asked at one point by Derksen’s lawyer whether she was “looking out for herself” in the evidence she gave, said: “I’m not looking out for myself. I’m looking out for the person who had got shot. I’m trying to get justice for him. If anything, he did not deserve to die.
“He did not deserve to go out the way he did. He did not do anything to me or Winston. And he knows that. He did not try to hurt us one bit.”
Simpson ruled: ” I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Winston Derksen created a lie regarding his involvement in Faisal Aden’s death and influenced Deidre Lafferty to lie to the police.
“Furthermore, I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt he did these things to cover up what actually happened to Faisal Aden.”