Accused in murder trial receiving death threats

A man accused of second-degree murder is receiving death threats while in custody, says his lawyer.
Lyndon Butler, 21, is shown with his former lawyer Bob Buckingham during a court appearance earlier this month. (CBC)

One of the men accused of second-degree murder is receiving death threats while in custody, says his lawyer.

Lyndon Butler was arrested earlier this month after a man was shot and killed outside a home on Portugal Cove Road in St. John's in what is alleged to be a botched robbery attempt.

His lawyer, Jeff Brace, has been told that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has received three death threats against his client.

Brace has taken on the case from Bob Buckingham in what Brace told reporters outside court today was a mutual decision on the part of the two lawyers.

"As you guys know, this will be my seventh murder trial, so he wanted some experience behind him. I'm only too glad to help him," he said.

Now that Brace has taken over the case, he will be looking for evidence that has still not been shared with the defence. There are surveillance tapes referenced in the original information Brace received, but he has yet to see the video, he said.

"I've been requesting information that I know exists. It's not speculation that it exists," he said.

While Brace is uncertain whether or not the video is significant, he still needs to view it to make that decision, and prepare his case accordingly.

"But obviously it's something we want, and we want it sooner rather than later," he said.

Brace paints a picture of his client, Butler, as a soft-spoken young man who had hopes and dreams, and was accepted for the environmental engineering program at the Marine Institute in September.

"Needless to say, those plans are off the rails," said Brace.

Meanwhile, the other man accused in the same case - Philip Pynn - had some problems of his own. He was scheduled to appear in front of a judge today, which he wanted to do in person. Instead, he was made to appear by video link from prison.

Reporters at provincial court could see that guards had to physically drag Pynn into the room where the camera was set up, an action that shocked Brace.

"I have to confess that what I saw happen with Mr. Pynn, I never seen happen in 23 years of practice," he said. "It was frightening, quite frankly. I thought he was going to be hurt."

In court, as Pynn struggled, his lawyer, Averill Baker, spoke up saying to Judge Robert Hyslop: "I ask that you order the guards to stop assaulting my client." Hyslop didn't intervene, but instead kept the court proceedings going.

Baker later told CBC News in a written statement, "the Crown should be ashamed of themselves in not stopping such a brutal and archaic assault on my client."