Quebec fatal fire suspect to face U.S. charges before extradition
A man wanted in connection with three deaths in northwestern Quebec will not be returning to Canada until a separate set of charges is settled against him in the United States.
Justin Bresaw, the subject of a Canada-wide arrest warrant and an Interpol alert, was arrested Sunday by police in Tallahassee, Fl., during what police said was a wild incident where he is alleged to have evaded capture and assaulted a police officer.
A state attorney in Florida said Tuesday that he was aware an extradition request had been made and said authorities were working to expedite the U.S. criminal case.
Police were searching for the 35-year-old fugitive after three people were found dead last month inside a home set ablaze in Amos, Que., about 500 kilometres north of Montreal.
In Quebec, Bresaw is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Rene Deschatelets, Diane Duhaime and Jean-Guy Labelle.
U.S. attorney John Fuchs said he knows Canadian authorities are eager to get Bresaw before a judge in Quebec. But Bresaw also faces serious charges stemming from the incident in Florida and Fuchs said those charges must be resolved first.
"He beat up the law-enforcement officer here locally pretty bad and he has to answer for that," Fuchs said.
"There has to be some resolution of this (Florida) case... We're all working together to try not to delay any extradition process because we certainly understand the severity of the charges in Canada."
Fuchs said Bresaw is scheduled to appear in court again on Wednesday in Tallahassee — this time before the judge who would ultimately hear his Florida trial. He said Bresaw had already appeared before a judge on both Monday and Tuesday, when the charges were formally filed against him.
Bresaw is facing a number of serious charges following that Florida incident including burglary at a dwelling; battery on a law-enforcement officer; resisting an officer with violence; depriving an officer of his communication; and resisting an officer without violence.
The maximum penalty for those charges ranges from five to 15 years behind bars, Fuchs said.
In a few weeks, Bresaw will enter a plea after which a trial date would be set. Bresaw is being represented by a public defender.
"We will hopefully set it for a trial or a plea very shortly so that way we can start the extradition process and send him up to Canada," Fuchs said.
After eluding police for more than two weeks, Bresaw was spotted in Tallahassee, Fla., in the predawn hours on Sunday, charging a laptop in an electrical outlet behind a church.
Police said Bresaw allegedly gave a false name at first — then he tried to flee the scene while the officer was entering his real name into a police database.
A police report said Bresaw resisted arrest and managed to escape after a scuffle. An officer involved was left with a gash on his face and a broken nose after he smashed into a metal support beam.
Quebec provincial police Sgt. Pierre Tremblay said Tuesday that he knew that the extradition process had been started but said Canadian authorities weren't sure how long it would take to bring Bresaw back to Quebec.