The judge in the trial of a man charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of a Montreal cab driver has declared a mistrial.

The lawyer representing Nigel Rudolph John, 28, said he cannot continue with the case for at least two months for personal and medical reasons.

The judge dismissed the jury Wednesday morning at the Montreal courthouse.

The body of taxi driver Mohammed Nehar-Belaid, 64, was found covered with a piece of carpet in a vacant lot in Montreal's LaSalle borough in December 2009. John was arrested days later based on tips following the release of surveillance footage of a suspect believed to be using Nehar-Belaid's car at a gas station in nearby Verdun.

Letter from doctor

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Nigel Rudolph John, 28, was charged with second-degree murder. ((CBC))

John's trial began last week, and defence attorney Joseph La Leggia has been representing John since he was arrested.

Leggia was not present Wednesday and a colleague of his presented the court with a letter from La Leggia's doctor. The colleague told the judge it will be at least two months before La Leggia is able to return to work, and no other attorney is available to fill in.

Since John said he only wants to be represented by La Leggia, the judge said the situation has fatally wounded the trial process.

La Leggia's absence follows last weekend's assault against a fellow defence lawyer. La Leggia himself was beaten up when he returned home from work nearly a year ago.