Court dismisses charter challenge in 2021 double homicide case
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/07/2022 (320 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Steinbach man arrested in the slaying of an elderly couple has been dealt a legal blow in his charter challenge to quash a move to bring him to trial without the benefit of a preliminary hearing.
Karlton Dean Reimer, 28, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the March 2021 stabbing deaths of 77-year-old Dennis Lidgett and his wife Bernadette Lidgett, 73, at their home near Lorette.
Crown prosecutors are proceeding by direct indictment, meaning the case will go straight to trial without a preliminary hearing.
Preliminary hearings are held in provincial court, after which a judge rules whether there is sufficient evidence to bring the case to trial.
In 2019, the federal government passed a bill limiting preliminary hearings to those cases involving offences with a maximum sentence of 14 years or more in prison, arguing it would reduce the time needed to bring cases to trial.
Reimer’s lawyer, Leonard Tailleur, has filed a charter challenge, arguing the direct indictment in this case represents an abuse of process. The motion is set to be heard July 28.
Tailleur alleges the Crown decision to file a direct indictment is based on a policy directed at eliminating all preliminary hearings, and not on the specific circumstances of Reimer’s case.
In a related motion, Tailleur sought an order from the court requiring the Crown to disclose to the defence all reports and records in its possession related to costs and time savings for preliminary hearings between the year 2010 and 2021.
Queen’s Bench Justice Shaun Greenberg dismissed the disclosure motion in a decision released Wednesday, ruling the records are not relevant in deciding the charter motion.
“If the decision to direct indict here was based on a consideration of the circumstances of this case, then whether preliminary inquiries generally cause delays is clearly irrelevant,” Greenberg said.
“If, as the defence argues, the decision to direct indict was not based on the circumstances of this case but was based on a policy to direct indict in all cases, then the rationale or justification for that policy is also clearly irrelevant.”
Manitoba Prosecution Service executive director Michelle Jules testified at a hearing on the disclosure motion earlier this spring, that concerns about delay drove a policy to direct Crown attorneys to consider direct indictments in all “serious” cases.
Greenberg said if such a policy is in place, it “effectively overrules Parliament’s clear intention to retain preliminary inquiries.”
“Even assuming preliminary inquiries cause delays, the provincial Crown’s office cannot develop a policy that effectively eliminates them,” she said. “The issue of delay was considered by Parliament when it determined that preliminary inquiries should be retained in serious cases.”
Reimer is set to stand trial in November. He is expected to plead not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder.
The Lidgetts were killed just months before they would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Jen Lidgett, the eldest of the couple’s three children, told the Free Press last year her parents became even closer during the pandemic.
“I swear, over COVID, if it’s even possible, I think they fell more and more in love with each other and appreciated us as a family even more,” she said.
Six months before the killings, Reimer was released on bail with a warning he would be at risk of harming someone if he didn’t take his medication and obey his release conditions.
Reimer was released on bail Sept. 18, four days after his arrest in Blumenort on charges of mischief to property and possession of property obtained by crime. He was released with the consent of the Crown on conditions that included he have no contact with his parents — two of four victims identified in court documents — without their prior consent.
“The matters on the docket don’t look all that serious, but I can tell you there is significant background that I have discussed with RCMP in regards to Mr. Reimer, his mental health issues, as well as his co-occurring substance abuse issues and they all need to be addressed in order to reduce his risk in the community, but also to provide some protection for his parents,” Crown attorney Kristee Logan told provincial court Judge Brent Stewart.
“I just want to make it clear to Mr. Reimer that these conditions are very serious, and if he is not complying, then he is going to find himself in the (Winnipeg) Remand Centre or at risk of harming himself or someone else.”
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.