Pair charged in shoot­ing plot go­ing to trial

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Two young peo­ple ac­cused of plot­ting to shoot shop­pers at a Hal­i­fax mall have been com­mit­ted to stand trial on sev­eral charges, in­clud­ing con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der.

A pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing, which lasted a to­tal of three days, wrapped up Thurs­day for 23year-old Lind­say Kan­tha Sou­van­narath of Geneva, Ill., and 21-year-old Ran­dall Steven Shep­herd of Hal­i­fax.

A rou­tine pub­li­ca­tion ban pro­hibits re­port­ing what was heard dur­ing the hear­ing to en­sure the ac­cused re­ceive a fair trial.

They have also been charged with con­spir­acy to com­mit ar­son, illegal pos­ses­sion of dan­ger­ous weapons and mak­ing a threat through so­cial media.

The Crown al­leges the two ac­cused, along with a 19-yearold man found dead in his Hal­i­fax home, had planned to at­tack the Hal­i­fax Shop­ping Cen­tre on Valen­tine's Day. None of the al­le­ga­tions have been proven in court.

“We have a strong case to go for­ward on,” Crown at­tor­ney Mark Heerema said out­side court. Judge Anne Derrick told the court the ac­cused are ex­pected to ap­pear in court Aug. 6 for a pre-trial hear­ing.

Out­side court, Heerema said the pair would face a jury trial in Nova Sco­tia Supreme Court.

He said it was un­clear when the trial would be held, but he sug­gested that it would likely take up sev­eral weeks in the fall of 2016.

He said the files dis­closed by the Crown to the de­fence in­clude hun­dreds of thou­sands of pages, many of them screen­grabs from so­cial media sites.

“It's be­com­ing less un­com­mon for cases to have a lot of so­cial media ev­i­dence,” he said out­side the court.

“It's a prod­uct of peo­ple us­ing so­cial media, tex­ting or cell­phones more fre­quently. Cer­tainly, this is an ex­cep­tional case for the amount of dis­clo­sure. It is truly vo­lu­mi­nous.”

Shep­herd and Sou­van­narath re­main in cus­tody at the Cen­tral Nova Sco­tia Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity in Hal­i­fax. Nei­ther one has ap­plied for bail. Heerema said the Crown would op­pose such an ap­pli­ca­tion.

On Feb. 14, Hal­i­fax Po­lice Chief Jean-Michel Blais an­nounced that po­lice had thwarted an al­leged mass mur­der plot, say­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion started as the re­sult of an anony­mous Crime Stop­pers tip re­ceived early on Feb. 12.

Po­lice later con­firmed that a third sus­pect, 19-year-old James Gam­ble, had fa­tally shot him­self on Feb. 13 in the Hal­i­fax sub­urb of Tim­ber­lea.

At the time, RCMP Asst. Com­mis­sioner Brian Bren­nan said three long-bar­relled ri­fles had been seized from Gam­ble's home.

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