The man charged in the February hit-and-run death of a 22-year-old man from the Elsipogtog First Nation has pleaded not guilty to failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily harm or death.
Gilles Lemieux, the lawyer for Maurice Johnson of Saint Charles, N.B., appeared on his client’s behalf at a Moncton courtroom on Tuesday and elected a jury trial.
The family and supporters of Brady Francis packed the courtroom for the short appearance.
After the hearing questions were raised by the supporter regarding the language used in the proceedings.
Patty Musgrave, a family friend, says the choice to use French isn’t sitting well with the family.
“We are on Mi’kmaq territory right now,” she said outside Moncton provincial court.
“For the defence to say that this trial will be in French-only, not even bilingual, is a further disrespect.”
Musgrave says she wants the New Brunswick Justice Minister to respond before the case continues.
“We don’t mind if it’s in French, but have a translator present, just like the Calls to Action [of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report] say,” she said.
Crown attorney Pierre Gionet said he heard the language concerns, and that they’ll look into the issue.
Francis was hit by a pickup truck on Feb. 24 as he left a party in Saint-Charles, a predominantly francophone town about 12 kilometres south of the Elsipogtog reserve.
RCMP say that at approximately 9:30 p.m., officers responded to Saint-Charles Sud Road where the body of Francis was found on the side of the road.
Police believe he was waiting for a drive home when he was struck by a vehicle.
Many Elsipogtog residents had called for criminal charges in the case and expressed relief when charges were laid against Johnson in June.
We’re extremely happy,” Ruth Levi, a band councillor and director of social services at the Elsipogtog reserve, told Global News at the time.
“The investigation is over. It was long but it shows that Brady’s case was not put on the back burner which a lot of people thought was happening.”
A preliminary hearing has been set for Jan. 14 and Jan. 15, 2019.
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