Man accused of murder in Hay River likely not going to trial until spring/summer

The trial of a man accused of murder and robbery in connection with a death in Hay River more than two years ago likely won't be going ahead until the summer.

Levi Cayen is one of four cousins who were charged in connection with the death of Alex Norwegian. The 25-year-old was found dead in a vehicle on the side of the road in Hay River's Sandy Creek area on Dec. 28, 2017. 

Cayen's trial was scheduled to be held this month. But in November Cayen parted ways with his lawyer and the judge cancelled his trial date.

According to court documents, Cayen's new lawyer, Alan Regel, said Cayen wants his trial held in Hay River, not Yellowknife as planned.

Trials are typically held in the communities where the alleged crimes occurred unless the community is so small that it is unlikely an impartial jury can be found. Regel pointed out that no application was made to have the trial held in Yellowknife instead of Hay River.

During an appearance last month, the prosecutor pointed out that Regel once represented one of the witnesses the Crown intends to call during Cayen's trial. Regel said he had no recollection of that case and that both he and his client do not think it will affect his ability to represent Cayen at the trial.

Before Cayen's trial begins, a hearing will be held to decide preliminary issues, such as the admissibility of particular pieces of evidence. Regel indicated he won't be available for that or the trial until after June 1.

Publication ban on evidence

The other man charged with murder and robbery in connection with Norwegian's death is James George Thomas. His jury trial is scheduled to be held in Yellowknife over eight weeks starting April 20.

Some details about what happened the night Norwegian died came out last year, during the sentencing of the two others charged in connection with Norwegian's death.

At the time of those sentencings, the judge ordered publication bans on the evidence presented, but delayed the bans from from coming into effect until four months before the trials of Thomas and Cayen.