Ex-nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, charged in 8 deaths, makes court appearance

Former Woodstock, Ont., nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, charged with killing eight nursing-home residents and injuring several others, made a brief court appearance today two weeks after waiving her right to a preliminary hearing.
Elizabeth Wettlaufer, an ex-nurse charged in the deaths of several residents at two nursing homes, has made several court appearances since her arrest in October. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

Former Woodstock, Ont., nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, charged with killing eight nursing-home residents and injuring several others, made a brief court appearance today two weeks after waiving her right to a preliminary hearing.

Wettlaufer, 49, has been charged with eight counts of first-degree murder, stemming from the deaths of seniors at two southwestern Ontario long-term-care facilities — in Woodstock and London — as well as other charges. 

In waiving the right to a preliminary hearing, which determines if there's enough evidence to go to trial, the accused's case then proceeds to trial.

A trial date was expected to be set Friday, but Superior Court Judge Bruce Thomas said lawyers need to go through a significant amount of evidence first.

Thomas set the next court date for May 12.

Wettlaufer made her latest court appearance on Friday. Two weeks ago, she waived her right to a preliminary hearing. Her next court date is May 12. (Amanda Margison/CBC)

Wettlaufer was wearing a white shirt and black pants when she entered the courtroom. Also present were about a dozen friends and family of the alleged victims.

'How dare you look so wonderful?'

Friday marked the first time since January that Wettlaufer has attended court in person.

"She's not in her prison outfit anymore. She's got her hair done, she's all prettied up," said Andrea Silcox, whose father James was one of the patients allegedly killed by the former nurse. "Must be nice. And I thought, 'how dare you look so wonderful.'"

Some in attendance, including Laura Jackson, felt Wettlaufer was making eye contact with them from her place in the prisoner's box.

 "It's like she was looking for someone," said Jackson, who was a close friend of Maurice Granat, another alleged victim.

Laura Jackson (left) and Andrea Silcox speak with reporters outside of the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont. Silcox holds a bracelet her father James, allegedly killed by Elizabeth Wettlaufer, wore during World War II. His initials, along with the word "family" are inscribed on it. (Amanda Margison/CBC)

Arpad Horvath Jr. said he stared right back at Wettlaufer, who is accused of killing his father.

"Mostly looking at her I felt anger," he explained, adding he was glad the judge was focused on moving the case forward.

"We should keep the momentum going on this and just try to get to an end result."

Trial venue could change

Standing outside of the courthouse after Wettlaufer's last appearance earlier this month, her lawyer, Brad Burgess, said he may look for a change of venue for a trial, suggesting it would be outside Woodstock where the accused lived and worked.

The former nurse, who has not entered a plea, has been held since her arrest in October at the detention centre for women in Milton. 

After the initial murder charges, Wettlaufer was charged with four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault. In all, the incidents allegedly occurred between 2007 and 2016, according to the latest records from police.

Police say they obtained records from long-term-care homes in Woodstock, Paris and London where Wettlaufer worked, often as the nurse in charge on the night shift.

None of the allegations has been tested in court.