Pair charged in death of toddler found near Edmonton church to have separate trials

Click to play video: 'Pair charged in death of toddler found in Edmonton to have separate trials'
Pair charged in death of toddler found in Edmonton to have separate trials
WATCH ABOVE: The trial for two people charged in the death of a toddler found near an Edmonton church will not go ahead as scheduled. Instead, the accused will be tried separately. Kent Morrison reports. – Jun 5, 2019

A trial for an Edmonton man charged in the death of his 19-month-old son has been delayed again.

Joey Crier and Tasha-Lee Mack are charged in the death of Anthony Raine.

The second-degree murder trial was supposed to start on Wednesday, but was delayed after Crier’s lawyer, Amanda Hart-Dowhun, asked to be removed from the case.

“There has been a fundamental breakdown of the lawyer-client relationship,” she told Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Rob Graesser.

“I’m sorry the relationship has broken down,” responded Graesser. “I certainly will not force you to stay on.”

READ MORE: RCMP arrest father charged with murder in Edmonton toddler’s death after he failed to appear in court

Crier, who has been out on bail since last fall and was ordered to live with his mother on the Pigeon Lake reserve, failed to show up in court on Monday for jury selection.

Story continues below advertisement

An arrest warrant was issued and Crier was picked up by RCMP a short time later in Maskwacis, a First Nations community about 70 kilometres south of Edmonton near Wetaskiwin.

Because he skipped court, the judge ruled Crier lost the right to be tried by a jury, so he will be tried by judge alone.

Crier’s bail has also been revoked.

On Wednesday afternoon, Justice Graesser decided Crier and Mack would now be tried separately.

Crown prosecutor Mark van Manen said he still preferred to have one trial, because there are between 40 and 45 witnesses to testify.

But the lawyers weren’t able to agree on a date that could start within 30 months of the charges being laid. That timeline for criminal cases was established by the Supreme Court in what’s known as the Jordan decision.

Mack’s lawyer, Ajay Juneja, declined to waive his client’s rights under the decision, so Mack’s trial is to begin Monday and is scheduled to last three weeks.

Joey Crier and Tasha-Lee Mack. Supplied

In a statement to Global News, Mack’s lawyer said his client has “the right to be tried within a reasonable period of time.

Story continues below advertisement

“She has maintained and asserted her innocence for over two years, the stress of facing this prosecution has been extremely difficult for her,” lawyer Ajay Juneja said. “She is extremely anxious to have these matters resolved. The vexatious vicissitudes that accompany facing charges of this nature are overwhelming. She is eager to have this matter put behind her.”

Crier, who waived his Jordan rights, will take place at a later date. He will stay in custody.

“I need time to find a lawyer,” he said.

He told court his ride from Maskwacis, a community south of Edmonton, failed to show up and he was trying to find another way into the city.

He is to return to court June 14 to determine next steps.

EXCLUSIVE: Family of accused killer speaks out; doesn’t know if toddler was alive while at their house

On April 21, 2018, the toddler’s body was found outside the Good Shepherd Anglican Church in north Edmonton, where the remains had allegedly been left three days earlier.

Investigators said the cause of the boy’s death was trauma to the head, adding there were bruises all over his body.

Story continues below advertisement

Crier, and his then-girlfriend, Mack, were charged with one count each of second-degree murder, criminal negligence causing death, assault and failing to provide necessaries of life. Crier was also charged with assault causing bodily harm.

— With files from Colette Derworiz, Canadian Press

Sponsored content