A preliminary hearing has been set for the man accused of killing a gay rights activist outside a Halifax bar last year.

Andre Noel Denny appeared in front of a judge today in Halifax provincial court.

The 33-year-old Membertou man is charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of 49-year-old Raymond Taavel.

Taavel was found dead outside a bar on Gottingen Street in April, 2012. Police said 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 failed to return to the facility. Denny was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager.

His preliminary hearing was supposed to begin last month, but it was delayed after he fired his lawyer.

The same lawyer, Don Murray, has since been rehired. Three days in July have been reserved for the hearing.

“It is a long way off, but in Nova Scotia we are generally looking at from the time of arrest in a homicide, about 18 months come the end of the trial, so we are still within that time frame,” says Murray.

“At trial there will be a lot more issues to deal with, so I anticipate at least a month, which means perhaps not until next year sometime,” says Crown prosecutor Darrell Martin.

Denny will remain at the East Coast Forensic Hospital until his court date in July.