Separate murder trials to be held for two accused in death of Edmonton child

A murder trial will begin next Monday, but only for one of the two people accused of murdering a toddler.

Joey Crier and Tasha Mack are charged with the second-degree murder of 19-month-old Anthony Raine, Crier’s biological son.

The baby’s body was discovered in April 2017 outside a north Edmonton church. At the time, police said the cause of death was blunt force trauma.

The two were to have faced a jury trial together. That plan was derailed on Monday when 279 potential jurors waited for Crier to arrive, who never showed up.

By mid-afternoon, the jurors were sent home and the judge declared Crier had lost his right to a jury trial. 

Crier was arrested at a residence in Maskwacis on Monday night and appeared in court Wednesday morning in orange remand centre coveralls. That’s when his lawyer, Amanda Hart-Dowhun, asked to be removed from the case.

“Having given the matter a great deal of thought, I am unfortunately of the opinion there’s been a fundamental breakdown in the lawyer/client relationship,” Hart-Dowhun said.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Graesser granted her request.

Crier said he wants to find a new lawyer. Crier’s bail has been revoked, despite his efforts to plead his case to the judge about his non-appearance Monday.

Joey Crier remains in custody while he tries to find a new lawyer and set a new trial date. (Facebook )

“I was not trying to evade or run or abscond bail,” Crier said from the prisoner’s box. “I was simply trying to buy time to get here. The original driver bailed on us.”

Mack to be tried by judge alone

Attempts were made to secure a new trial date for both accused, but the earliest possible availability was in October, which would mean Mack could make a so-called Jordan application, arguing her constitutional right to a trial within 30 months had been violated.

Crown prosecutor Mark van Manen decided he didn’t want to risk a Jordan application, even though it would be preferable to save time and resources by trying Crier and Mack together. He filed an application to hold two separate judge-alone trials, which was granted by the judge.

A second-degree murder trial begins next week for Tasha Mack. (Facebook/Tasha Mack )

Mack’s trial begins Monday. She remains free on bail. The Crown said he intends to call up to 45 witnesses, including police, family members, doctors and a DNA expert.

Crier remains in custody while he attempts to find a new lawyer. His trial date will likely not be set until that is accomplished.

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