A man who murdered an RCMP officer in Hay River, N.W.T., 16 and a half years ago is applying to be released on parole.

Emrah Bulatci was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for at least 25 years after being convicted of shooting and killing Const. Christopher Worden in the early morning hours of Oct. 6, 2007.

Bulatci, now 39 years old, is applying to be released on probation under the so-called “faint hope clause” that existed in the Criminal Code of Canada at the time he was charged. It allowed people sentenced for first degree murder to apply for a reduction in their parole inadmissibility period after serving 15 years.

The faint hope clause has since been repealed and is not available to people serving sentences for crimes committed after Dec. 2, 2011.

Bulatci is being represented by perhaps the highest-profile lawyer in Canada, Brian Greenspan. Greenspan has represented clients such as former hockey agent Alan Eagleson, fashion mogul Peter Nygard, and fashion model Naomi Campbell.

One person who will be opposing Bulatci’s release is Worden’s widow, Jodie Baulkham. At the time of Worden’s death, she was Jodie Worden and the mother of their first child who was then an infant.

“When the RCMP called me last February and said this was happening, that was a gut punch,” Baulkham told CBC News. “At the time I thought we had nine more years before we were going to have to deal with any of that.”

Bulatci’s application is at the first stage. He must convince N.W.T. Supreme Court chief Justice Shannon Smallwood that there’s a reasonable prospect of it being successful. If the judge agrees there is, a jury will be assembled to hear Bulatci’s case to be released on early parole.

Letters of support

Court documents submitted as part of the application include several letters of support.

“I have no doubt of the depth of his remorse over his crimes and how they have affected the family of his victim,” wrote Keith Blackmore, a chaplain at the Grande Cache Institution, where Bulatci is incarcerated.

Ahmad Ali, another of the chaplains at Grande Cache, described him as “someone that is committed to advancing himself in a positive and productive manner.” The chaplain said he has been seeing Bulatci weekly for the last two years.

An Indigenous elder at Grande Cache, Lawrence Starr, said that Bulatci “appears to be following all of the suggestions in the healing plan that was given to him,” and regularly requests counselling sessions.

Bulatci’s stepfather said he has a business in Edmonton and has a job waiting for his stepson when he gets out of prison, “so that he can work with me side-by-side and create a new life of his own.”

Bulatci’s account of events leading up to murder

Court documents include an affidavit from Bulatci describing the events leading up to the shooting in 2007.

In the affidavit, he said he had been dealing drugs — mainly crack and powdered cocaine — in small Alberta towns for a few years before the murder. But he said in 2007 his daughter was born and he decided to give up drug dealing.

“There were three small towns in Alberta for which I had ‘drug phones’ which made up the vast majority of my criminal dealings,” said Bulatci in the sworn affidavit. “Whenever someone called or texted these numbers they would be requesting drugs. The phones had a great deal of value and I decided to sell them.”

Bulatci said he sold two phones for a total of $90,000 and one phone for Grande Prairie, Alta., for $70,000. He wrote that, “the purchase provided me with some significant amount of cocaine,” but did not indicate whether the drugs were part of the deal or purchased with money from the sale of the phones.

He said he and two companions drove with the cocaine to Hay River, where they had sold drugs before for considerably more than they could get in Alberta. Bulatci recounted that early one morning, while leaving the Hay River house they were using to sell the drugs, RCMP Const. Christopher Worden arrived and blocked the driveway their cab had pulled into.

“I learned much later that Cst. Worden wasn’t attending the house due to our activity but was in search of an intoxicated, possibly suicidal man,” wrote Bulatci.

A blurry image of a shirtless man on a sidewalk near some trees.
Police arrest a shirtless Emrah Bulatci in Edmonton in 2007, 5 days after Const. Christopher Worden was killed. (CBC)

Bulatci had a handgun on him he was not allowed to possess and was breaching numerous court orders by being in the Northwest Territories. He said Worden asked him his name then said he was under arrest and ordered Bulatci to put his hands on top of the taxi.

“I decided to run away from the officer to dispose of the weapon,” wrote Bulatci in his affidavit. He wasn’t able to outrun Worden, who was captain of his university football team. Bulatci said he pulled his gun out and fired two shots toward Worden’s lower body as he fled.

Those shots hit Worden but he continued to chase Bulatci, who tripped and fell into a ditch.

“As we wrestled I fired the gun two more times,” said Bulatci in his affidavit.

During his trial Bulatci testified that those shots were fired accidentally as they struggled on the ground. Worden died at the scene. Bulatci fled to his vehicle and left the Northwest Territories. He was arrested at an Edmonton home five days later.

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