Murder trial adjourned again
Barrett’s new lawyer needs more time to prepare
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.