Man accused of fatally beating gay activist fires lawyer
Published Tuesday, February 19, 2013 11:08AM AST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 19, 2013 12:51PM AST
HALIFAX -- A preliminary hearing for a man accused of fatally beating another man outside a Halifax bar last year was adjourned Tuesday after the accused fired his lawyer, saying trust had been lost.
Andre Noel Denny pointed at defence lawyer Don Murray and accused him of bringing a knife to a meeting between the pair.
"The trust ain't there anymore," Denny, 33, told provincial court.
"The guy had a knife the other night at the hospital. ... He scared the living daylights out of me. I'm shaking in my boots."
Murray declined comment outside court.
Judge William Digby gave Denny until March 19 to find a new lawyer through legal aid. He ordered Denny, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager, to return to the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Halifax.
"I'm not in a position to determine whether in fact Mr. Denny's comments arise from genuine issues or whether or not he has other motives or plans at play," Digby said.
Denny had been scheduled to appear for a four-day preliminary hearing on charges of second-degree murder in the death of 49-year-old Raymond Taavel.
Denny was charged after Taavel, a prominent activist in Halifax's gay community, was found dead outside a downtown bar in April. Taavel had tried to break up a fight between two men.
Hours before, Denny was released by the East Coast Forensic Hospital on an unsupervised one-hour pass, but he didn't return.
Denny, flanked by four sheriffs Tuesday, repeatedly interrupted the judge during his 10-minute court appearance. Dressed in a hooded sweatshirt with a mop of dark hair buzzed on the sides, Denny railed against his stepfather and ranted about a government conspiracy, God and various health problems.
He told the judge he wanted to return to the East Coast Forensic Hospital or a rehabilitation centre where he could "wear normal clothes and play pool."
Crown lawyer Darrell Martin said outside court that he has concerns about Denny's mental fitness, but added there's no indication that the accused is mentally unfit.
A psychiatric assessment intended to address whether Denny is fit to stand trial was completed last year.
No further assessments have been ordered, but Martin said it's something that can be revisited in the future.