Convicted killer Cody Legebokoff's appeal dismissed
Legebokoff's lawyers had argued the judges comments showed a bias, leading to a miscarriage of justice
The B.C. Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal from convicted killer Cody Legebokoff, ruling there was no miscarriage of justice at his 2014 trial.
Legebokoff had argued that the trial judge revealed a bias against the defence team in his reasons for denying a pre-trial application to change the venue of his first-degree murder trial from Prince George to Vancouver.
The reasons for the denial were released after conviction.
But Legebokoff claimed that had he known "the judge's views prior to the conclusion of the trial, then he might have sought legal advice that could have led him to retain new counsel."
The comments in question concerned the way defence crafted an argument that extensive pre-trial publicity made it impossible for Legebokoff to receive a fair trial in Prince George.
The defence lawyers cited stories which ran on CNN and 48 Hours. The trial judge faulted them for failing to note that both were programs which could be seen throughout British Columbia.
In rejecting Legebokoff's bid for a new trial, the three appeal court justices disagreed with the original trial court judge's assessment of defence conduct, finding his criticism "entirely without merit".
That's in part because most people know how widely CNN and 48 Hours broadcast.
But also because the defence wasn't claiming the shows couldn't be seen all over B.C. — rather that "the risk of prejudice to a fair trial was greater in Prince George than it would be in a larger urban center like Vancouver."
Regardless, the appeal court found "there is no suggestion that the judge's views affected the manner in which he conducted the trial."
The judges said a well-informed reasonable person would also know the trial judge wasn't required to express his views earlier and that Legebokoff was competently represented throughout the trial.
The 24-year-old was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years on four counts of first-degree murder in September, 2014.
He was convicted in the 2009 and 2010 murders of Loren Donn Leslie, Jill Stacey Stuchenko, Cynthia Frances Maas and Natasha Lynn Montgomery.