Decision reserved in application to throw out charges for Lukas Strasser-Hird’s killers

Lukas Strasser-Hird. Courtesy: Strasser-Hird Family

A judge has reserved his ruling on an application to have convictions in a high-profile Calgary murder case thrown out.

Lawyers for three men convicted in the 2013 swarming death of Lukas Strasser-Hird argued a Jordan application Monday, citing unreasonable delays.

Defence lawyer Gavin Wolch told Justice Glen Poelman the issue is “whether it’s reasonable to take three years…without a preliminary inquiry.”

READ MORE: ‘Unreasonable delays’ put 2 more violent criminal cases in Calgary in jeopardy

The sentencing hearing in the case is delayed until Justice Poelman rules on the Jordan application Dec. 15.

Watch below from Sept. 23: There is outrage over a new legal move by three men convicted in a deadly swarming in Calgary. As Nancy Hixt reports, if they’re successful, they could walk free.

Click to play video: 'Lawyers in Calgary swarming death file motion that could see convictions stayed'
Lawyers in Calgary swarming death file motion that could see convictions stayed

A Supreme Court of Canada ruling earlier this year set new rules for how long a case can take from start to finish.

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The case was R. vs. Jordan. Any applications made citing its time guidelines are now called “Jordan applications.”

Under the new rules, an unreasonable delay would be presumed should proceedings exceed 18 months in provincial court or 30 months in superior court from the date of charge to conclusion of a trial.

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READ MORE: Jury reaches verdicts in warming death of Calgary’s Lukas Strasser-Hird  

Eighteen-year-old Strasser-Hird was kicked, beaten and stabbed to death outside of Vinyl nightclub in November 2013.

In June, a Calgary jury found Assmar Shlah and Franz Cabrera guilty of second-degree murder. The jury found Joch Pouk guilty of manslaughter.

Shlah and Cabrera face automatic life sentences with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.

Watch below: Global’s past coverage of the case

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There are several areas R. vs. Jordan left open for debate, including what defines a “trial” i.e. from charge date until conviction or charge date until sentencing is complete.

The Jordan ruling also didn’t set rules specific to direct indictment cases that go straight to trial without a preliminary inquiry.

READ MORE: Lukas Strasser-Hird family clings to memories of murdered teen

The defence teams argued the 18-month ceiling should apply, given this case proceeded by direct indictment. They also submitted Strasser-Hird’s case is not an “exceptional case” in which unreasonable delays would be justified.

“This was not a criminal organization fraud case,” Wolch argued.

The Crown disagreed and submitted Strasser-Hird is indeed an exceptional case.

“We’re saying that’s silly,” Crown prosecutor Ken McCaffrey said. “A case where there’s over a hundred witnesses and five accused should not be given the same ceiling as a person stealing a chocolate bar in a convenience store.”

Regardless of the outcome of the Jordan application, it’s expected there will be further appeals in the case.

“If this argument does not succeed, my client is going to appeal,” said Balfour Der, defence for Shlah. “We’ve already launched the proceedings. We are going to fight against his conviction.”

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Waiting for a decision on the Jordan application is just another added stress on the road to justice for the victim’s family.

“It’s just basically a ‘to get away with murder’ application,” Strasser-Hird’s father Dale Hird said. “They think it took too long and they figure they should get away with it.”

“It’s really a slap in the face to victims, how much pity we give to criminals in this country.”

Just last week, Hird spent an emotional day looking at photos of his deceased son on the anniversary of his death.

“It was just really tough,” he said.

He added he’s frustrated with the suggestion by defence this was a simple bar fight.

“It wasn’t a fight; it was an attack. It was an ambush of my son in the back alley.”

One Alberta murder case has already been thrown out under Jordan.

Lance Matthew Regan had his charge of first-degree murder stayed on Oct. 7 after the case took more than five years to go to trial.

Alberta Justice is appealing that ruling.

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