Lawyers to ask for separate trials in Saint John manslaughter case

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Garett Johnston, left, 24, and Gordon McMillan, 22, may have separate trials if their lawyers' motion is successful.  (Roger Cosman/CBC - image credit)
Garett Johnston, left, 24, and Gordon McMillan, 22, may have separate trials if their lawyers' motion is successful. (Roger Cosman/CBC - image credit)

Two men charged in the death of a 59-year-old Saint John man in 2019 will likely be tried separately.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Garrett Edward Johnston, 24, and Gordon Mitchell McMillan, 22, discussed several pre-trial issues, including separating the cases against them.

Rodney Macdonald announced his intention to file a motion of separation on behalf of Johnston.

The judge still has to hear that motion, but Crown prosecutor Jeremy Erickson told the court he doesn't anticipate any "pushback" from the Crown.

There are several other legal issues that have to be sorted out, including a defence motion for abuse of process.

Macdonald and Brian Munro have fought for months against the direct indictment against their clients, but have been rebuffed at every turn by Justice Darrell Stephenson, who most recently rejected a constitutional challenge of Section 577, which allows an accused to be sent directly to trial without having a preliminary inquiry.

Brenan's Funeral Home
Brenan's Funeral Home

Johnston and McMillan, who were living in the Kennebecasis Valley at the time of their arrest, are charged with manslaughter in the death of 59-year-old Mark Baker.

Police found Baker injured and unconscious at the intersection of Waterloo and Union streets in Saint John at about 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2019.

He was taken to hospital in serious condition and died the following day.

Two and a half days at the end of September have tentatively been set aside to hear the legal arguments on all of the outstanding issues.

If Macdonald's motion to separate the trials is successful, his client will take the original trial date of Nov. 15, while McMillan will be given a new date in 2022.

Both have elected jury trials and one month has been set aside.

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