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Paul Calnen pleads guilty to committing an indignity to human remains as murder trial opens

HALIFAX – Jury selection is complete and opening arguments will start Tuesday morning in the case of a Nova Scotia man accused of murdering his girlfriend and burning her remains.

Paul Trevor Calnen is facing one charge of second-degree murder and one charge of committing an indignity to human remains in the death of his girlfriend, Reita Jordan.

Jordan was last seen on March 19, 2013. Despite exhaustive searches by police and members of Jordan’s family, her body was never recovered.

Monday morning, Calnen pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to the charge of committing indignity to human remains.

“It was fairly unexpected. There was quite a bit of evidence, which I can’t speak about right now, but it appears he just decided to plead guilty at the forefront of the trial,” says Rick Woodburn, Crown Attorney.

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“It would be uncommon to go to trial on a charge you don’t dispute. And we do dispute the first charge, the second-degree murder charge and we’re confident in our case on that,” added Peter Planetta, lawyer for Paul Calnen, after the guilty plea was entered.

A jury of nine women and five men will hear the case. The crown plans to call both police and civilian witnesses.

“Right now, we’re looking at about 30-40 witnesses for the crown,” said Woodburn.

The defence won’t say whether or not they plan to call any witnesses or evidence during the trial.

Calnen has been out on bail for the past two years.

“It’s been a long road and I think anybody in this position would be looking forward to getting it over with,” Planetta says of his client.

Opening arguments will begin at 9:30 Tuesday morning. The trial is expected to last for five weeks.

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