Bradley Barton trial: Crown, defence give drastically different explanations for Cindy Gladue's death in closing statements


A courtroom sketch of Bradley Barton, taken on his first day of testimony in his manslaughter trial, Feb. 1, 2021. Credit: Jim Stokes

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Warning: this story contains details some readers may find disturbing.

During the early morning hours of June 22, 2011, Bradley Barton and Cindy Gladue entered Room 139 of the Yellowhead Inn, a hotel on Edmonton’s north side popular with long-haul truckers.

The next morning, Gladue was dead, her naked body covered in blood in the suite’s bathtub.

Twelve jurors — who have been hearing Barton’s manslaughter trial for the past six weeks — will soon be tasked with deciding what happened in that hotel room nearly a decade ago.

Crown and defence lawyers delivered their closing arguments during a marathon court hearing Wednesday, presenting drastically different accounts of the evidence and what it means.

Crown prosecutors allege Barton sexually assaulted Gladue, inflicting an 11-centimetre wound to her vaginal wall that caused her to bleed to death.

The defence maintains the sexual contact was consensual, and that Gladue’s death was an accident.


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Barton, 52, testified he met Gladue at Yellowhead Inn bar while in Edmonton for a moving job. He agreed to pay her for sex the night of June 20, 2011, taking her to his hotel room where — among other things — he claims he inserted his fingers into her vagina in a conical shape.

Barton called Gladue the next night, and drank with her and a colleague at the bar until last call. As they returned to the hotel room, Barton asked the colleague if he would like a “piece” of Gladue. The colleague declined, after which Barton told him “what happens on the road, stays on the road.”

Barton claims Gladue consented to similar activity their second night together. He said he again inserted his hand into her vagina, this time past the base of his knuckles, stopping after a few minutes when he noticed blood.

He says he assumed she was on her period, and that she retreated to the bathroom while he fell asleep.

Barton claims he awoke the next morning to find Gladue’s lifeless body in the bathtub.

An undated photo of Cindy Gladue, who died in Bradley Barton’s hotel room on June 22, 2011.

Barton initially lied to police, claiming he discovered Gladue’s body after she asked to use his shower the night before. He later blamed her death on a pair of fictitious “swampers” who he allowed to sleep in his hotel room.

Barton says he told the lies because he was in a state of shock at seeing Gladue’s body.

Over three hours Wednesday morning, defence lawyer Dino Bottos argued that while his client lied, those lies were understandable under the circumstances.

“The reason the Crown has spent so much time questioning him about his lies is because they don’t have much else,” Bottos claimed.


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“I suggest, respectfully, that the Crown doesn’t have a lot of facts,” he added. “It has theories.”

Bottos claimed the physical evidence supports Barton’s claim that Gladue walked to the bathroom on her own, despite the fact no blood droplets were found between the bed and the bathroom. Specifically, Bottos said blood specks in the toilet bowl suggest Gladue sat there on her own before lowering herself into the bathtub.

Bottos acknowledged Barton should have called 911 immediately, instead of waiting to consult a coworker. “Of course we all know what he should have done, absolutely, but Mr. Barton didn’t know.”

As for Barton’s Internet search history, which days before Gladue’s death included searches for vaginas being ripped or torn by large objects, Bottos urged jurors to believe Barton’s evidence — that he was simply looking for vaginas being “stretched.”

Bottos called the evidence “that stink in the air. Those terrible words. That he … harboured some perverted fantasy to hurt Ms. Gladue.”

Crown prosecutor Lawrence Van Dyke, on the other hand, argued Barton’s testimony should be rejected entirely, given his “consistent pattern of proven lies.”

Van Dyke said Barton’s story “defies logic and common sense.”

The Crown argues Barton forced his hand — “the diameter of a newborn baby’s head” — into Gladue’s vagina while she lay in the centre of the bed, intoxicated — not while she was seated on the corner of the bed performing oral sex on Barton, as he claims.


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Courtroom sketch of defence lawyer Dino Bottos. Mandatory credit: Jim StokesCourtroom sketch of defence lawyer Dino Bottos. Credit: Jim Stokes

“He now insists to you he is telling the truth,” Van Dyke told the jury. “He urges you to just take his word for it: that Ms. Gladue was actually really enjoying the sexual activity that included enough force to rip her vagina.”

Van Dyke said the evidence suggests Barton carried Gladue to the bathroom in the comforter, which was still wet with blood the next afternoon. Three OB-GYNs who testified at trial said Gladue would have suffered “brisk or profuse” bleeding which would have been obvious, Van Dyke said.

The Crown maintains Barton’s lies were not a “product of shock” but rather an effort to protect himself from responsibility.

“Instead of calling for medical assistance, he simply let her bleed to death,” Van Dyke said. “He preferred to let her die and thus be silenced in order to conceal his unlawful conduct.”

Justice Stephen Hillier will deliver his final instructions to the jury Thursday, at which point they will be sequestered until a verdict is reached.


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