Cody Perkin, accused in the weekend beating death of a London, Ont. taxi driver was in hospital Tuesday for his first court date.
The 23-year-old is awaiting open heart surgery, the court was surprised to learn, after a lengthy process of placing calls to various detention centres and hospitals before finally locating him.
Perkin is facing a charge of second degree murder after driver Vijay Bhatia was found unconscious outside his taxi cab early Saturday morning. Perkin was charged the same day with assaulting a woman and uttering threats to cause bodily harm.
"He has serious heart problems and he is looking at surgery to replace a valve. He is already scheduled to see a specialist," defence lawyer James Zegers said.
He added it is too early to enter a plea.
Perkin's health concerns mean the case against him could be delayed. The next court date has already been pushed back to May 17 to allow for a medical appointment.
Funeral, vigil planned
Bhatia's killing has sparked anger among taxi drivers and the community, many of whom have called with condolences to the taxi company where the 64-year-old worked.
His close friend and fellow cabbie Fateh Bander called him a family man who came to Canada from India, and had successfully bought three cab licences in London.
"He was exceptional and this should not have happened," Bander said, calling on the public to join taxi drivers for a candlelight vigil and procession that will end at the convenience store parking lot where Bhatia was knocked unconscious.
No talking to mother
Perkin learned Tuesday that his mother gave video evidence to police at the time of his arrest and is one of 15 people he is not allowed to contact.
His lawyer has asked that her name be removed from the non-association order but a justice of the peace denied the request until the next court date.
"What if he dies during the operation and his mother can't see him because there's a court order?" Zegers said.