Petition wants speedier trial for accused killer Trent Butt

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Murder trial for accused child killer Trent Butt delayed due to lawyer switch

An online petition by a community group wants the Newfoundland and Labrador justice minister to push for a quicker trial for Trent Butt, accused of killing his five-year-old daughter.

It's nearly one year since Quinn Butt was found dead in her father's Carbonear home. Trent Butt pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and arson in her death.

Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to start in March 2018, but Cindy Cranford, who started the group Justice for Quinn, said that's too long to wait.

"As far as I'm concerned, having to wait another year is injustice itself," she said.

"We're talking about a five-year-old child. It's not just any murder, it's a murder that a parent is charged with committing. That should be the highest priority that the court should have right now."

Last week, the Crown indicated that if the availability of the court changes, it could ready to prosecute the case as early as this summer. 

Cranford and her group attend all of Butt's court appearances, holding signs and photos of Quinn to support her family.

"To have to wait this long for some sort of closure and to have to face this person time after time after time, the accused person, it's devastating for the whole family and it's just not right," Cranford told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

"How they can say that the justice system is running efficiently in this province, I really don't understand."

'Devastating aftermath'

Over the weekend, Cranford sent the online petition, which already has more than 1,200 signatures, to Justice Minister Andrew Parsons.

She's hoping he will be able to do something to ensure this case, unlike others, won't be delayed to the point charges are stayed. 

"If that happens in this case, it would have a devastating aftermath. People have lost faith in the system as it is, that is obvious," she said.

"You see more and more people voicing this concern and you see people protesting … and I think you'll see more of that because people are just — people have had enough."

The Supreme Court of Canada brought down new rules in July 2016 in the landmark R. v Jordan case, which determined that trials heard in provincial supreme or superior courts must be concluded within 30 months from the laying of charges. 

The Jordan decision has added new pressures to the Newfoundland and Labrador court system, which is dealing with more than a dozen murder cases.