Mur­der trial ad­journed again

Bar­rett’s new lawyer needs more time to pre­pare

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS - BY CAPE BRETON POST STAFF

Hav­ing al­ready recorded more than 30 ad­journ­ments since a sec­ond-de­gree mur­der charge was first filed in Fe­bru­ary 2013, a Glace Bay man added one more Wed­nes­day.

Thomas Ted Bar­rett, 41, is charged with the May 2012 death of 21-year-old Laura Cather­ine Jes­some whose re­mains were found in­side a hockey bag along the shores of the Mira River in Mar­ion Bridge.

Jes­some died af­ter be­ing stran­gled.

A two-week Supreme Court judge and jury trial was sched­uled to be­gin May 1 but Jus­tice Frank Ed­wards ad­journed that date at the re­quest of Bar­rett’s new de­fence lawyer Zeb Brown who was re­cently re­tained.

Brown said he would not be able to pre­pare in time for a May trial on such a se­ri­ous charge.

Jury se­lec­tion is now sched­uled to be­gin Oct. 2.

How­ever, that date may only be ten­ta­tive as Brown served no­tice Wed­nes­day of sev­eral ap­pli­ca­tions he will be mak­ing be­fore the court on Bar­rett’s be­half.

The first mo­tion, which is set for a March 22 hear­ing, in­volves a de­fence re­quest to have Ed­wards re­cused (re­moved) from hear­ing the case.

A sec­ond ar­gu­ment sched­uled for the same day will ask the court to stay the charges against Bar­rett be­cause of un­due de­lay in get­ting the case to trial.

An­other pos­si­ble ap­pli­ca­tion will re­quest mov­ing the trial from Syd­ney to an­other pro­vin­cial ju­ris­dic­tion.

Kathryn Pentz, the chief Crown at­tor­ney for Cape Breton, said the Crown has no ob­jec­tion to Ed­wards pre­sid­ing over the trial es­pe­cially if the trial pro­ceeds with a jury.

Pentz noted that it would be the jury who de­cides the facts of the case un­like a judge alone trial where the judge de­ter­mines on which facts to base a ver­dict.

In ex­press­ing a seem­ingly grow­ing frus­tra­tion with the num­ber of ad­journ­ments, Pentz said that it is not up to Bar­rett to call the shots when it comes to who pre­sides over the trial.

Ed­wards also of­fered com­ment on the is­sue ex­plain­ing he was un­aware of any case he’s dealt with in the past in which Bar­rett was di­rectly in­volved.

“The only time I’ve seen the man is in the past few weeks,” he said, adding Bar­rett could com­ment if he has a dif­fer­ent rec­ol­lec­tion. Bar­rett of­fered no com­ment.

“He must demon­strate a rea­son­able ap­pre­hen­sion of bias on the part of the judge,” said Ed­wards, in ref­er­enc­ing a key com­po­nent for such an ar­gu­ment.

Bar­rett’s con­cern, ac­cord­ing to Brown, is that Ed­wards sen­tenced an­other ac­cused in the case.

In 2014, Ed­wards ac­cepted a Crown rec­om­men­da­tion of a three-year sen­tence for John Wayne Hynes who pleaded guilty to be­ing an ac­ces­sory af­ter the fact in the 2006 mur­der of 19-year-old Brett El­iz­a­beth McKinnon of Glace Bay.

Ed­wards said there was no trial in the case as Hynes pleaded guilty and ac­cepted a joint state­ment of facts out­lin­ing his in­volve­ment.

Bar­rett was later con­victed of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in con­nec­tion with McKinnon’s death and re­ceived a life sen­tence.

Brown said Wed­nes­day that Bar­rett has only re­cently re­ceived 500 pages of Crown dis­clo­sure in his case and that it is still early to tell whether he will pro­ceed with judge alone or judge and jury.

When it comes to the un­due de­lay ar­gu­ment, Pentz said the Crown wants Bar­rett to waive so­lic­i­tor/client priv­i­lege in or­der for the court to get a full pic­ture of the rea­sons be­hind the de­lay by hav­ing pre­vi­ous lawyers ex­plain their deal­ings with the ac­cused.

Many of the de­lays were a re­sult of a break­down in so­lic­i­tor/ client re­la­tion­ships and Pentz said the court needs to hear more than just Bar­rett’s ver­sion of what caused the break­downs.

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