Crown says preliminary inquiry in Moncton murder case could last a month

·3 min read
Six people have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 18-year-old Joedin Leger in Moncton in April.  (Pierre Fournier/CBC - image credit)
Six people have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 18-year-old Joedin Leger in Moncton in April. (Pierre Fournier/CBC - image credit)

A Crown prosecutor says the preliminary inquiry for five people jointly charged with first-degree murder in Moncton could take a month.

Lawyers for the five said Thursday they weren't prepared to set dates for the hearing as they comb through thousands of pages of evidence in the case.

Six people have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the April 25 shooting death of 18-year-old Joedin Leger in Moncton. First-degree murder is a homicide that's planned and deliberate.

Riley Robert Sheldon Philips, 18, Hayden Joseph James LeBlanc, 18, Hunter Nash England, 20, Jerek John England, 23, and Nicholas Joseph James McAvoy, 24, are jointly charged. That means they will be tried together.

A sixth was under 18 at the time of the alleged crime and his case is proceeding separately in youth court.

Pascal Raiche-Nogue/Radio-Canada
Pascal Raiche-Nogue/Radio-Canada

The five co-accused, or their lawyers, made appearances Thursday afternoon in Moncton provincial court and were expected to schedule a preliminary inquiry. The inquiry is held to decide if there's enough evidence to have a trial.

"We anticipate it being a month," Crown prosecutor Martine Cormier told Judge Luc Labonté.

"A month for a prelim?" Labonté said. "I've practised law for 30 some years and I've never done anything that lasted a month."

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

A few minutes earlier, the lawyers said they weren't prepared to schedule the inquiry since they were still receiving disclosure of the Crown's evidence in the case.

"I tried to review it just quickly to see, to get a game plan together, and it's hundreds of thousands of pages," James Matheson, a lawyer representing McAvoy, told the judge.

The judge said since all five are in custody, they need to move the case ahead.

The case is scheduled to return to court Sept. 22 to set the preliminary inquiry date.

Trial could last months

The defence lawyers involved say it will be a logistically complicated case.

"It's going to be hard all across the board," lawyer Luc Roy, who is representing LeBlanc, told Radio-Canada in French.

"There are five co-accused, all charged with the most serious crime in the Criminal Code. If there's no change and there is a trial, it could last months."

"A month-long preliminary inquiry, that's already long," Roy said. "The trial could be much longer than that."

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

The preliminary hearing in the Richard Oland murder case lasted 37 days and heard from 42 witnesses.

The sixth person charged with first-degree murder in connection with Leger's death is scheduled to return to youth court Sept. 21 when a bail hearing may be scheduled.

The lawyer for Jerek England filed an application earlier this month asking for him to be released on bail prior to trial. A publication ban was imposed on the documents filed in support of the application.

The application was set to be heard by a Court of Queen's Bench judge on Aug. 17, but lawyer James McConnell asked for an adjournment. The hearing was rescheduled for Sept. 14.

RCMP have previously said police were called around 6:10 a.m. on April 25 for a report of shots fired at a Logan Lane duplex in Moncton's north end neighbourhood.

Leger had been shot and was taken to hospital, where he later died. RCMP have said another person was inside the home but wasn't injured.

Police said they determined a car had pulled up to the home, and four people got out and approached the house.

Several shots were fired before the four got back into a vehicle and fled the area, police said in a news release.