The case of a 33-year-old man accused of fatally beating a prominent activist in Halifax's gay community has been adjourned to give him time to find a new lawyer.

Andre Noel Denny had been scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of 49-year-old Raymond Taavel.

Instead, the hearing ground to a halt as Denny tried to fire his lawyer.

Denny told the court Don Murray had brought a knife to a meeting they had at the East Coast Forensic Hospital.

"He scared the living daylights out of me. I'm shaking in my boots," he told the court.

He said the solicitor-client trust had been broken.

A provincial court judge gave Denny until March 19 to find a defence attorney.

"Nothing makes me suspicious. I don't know what's going on, quite frankly," said Crown Prosecutor Darrell Martin.

Denny was charged last April after Taavel was found dead outside a downtown bar. Witnesses reported Taavel was fatally hurt while trying to break up a fight between two men.

Hours before, Denny had been released by the East Coast Forensic Hospital on an unsupervised one-hour pass, but had failed to return.

with files from The Canadian Press