Case of rural Alberta landowner accused of shooting trespasser delayed again

The lawyer for a rural landowner accused of shooting a trespasser says her client is entitled to a speedy trial but delays in court are continuing to mount.

'He has a right to have a trial in a timely manner,' says defence lawyer

Eddie Maurice and his wife Jessie outside the Okotoks Provincial Court earlier this month with their two young daughters. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC)

The lawyer for a rural Alberta landowner accused of shooting a trespasser says he is entitled to a speedy trial but court delays are continuing to mount. 

On Friday, the case was adjourned for more than a month because of a delayed ballistics report.

Eddie Maurice was charged after a trespasser was shot on his rural property south of Calgary in late February.

The man he allegedly shot, Ryan Watson, is also facing a number of charges. A second person on the property during the incident, Stephanie Martens, has been charged as well.

For rural property owners, this case has become a lightning rod for their concerns about property rights and use of force. 

RCMP report holds up proceedings

On Friday, Maurice was expected to enter a plea, but his lawyer, Tonii Roulston, asked for another adjournment because she's yet to be provided with a ballistics report she says is "integral" to deciding how they will proceed. 

"We've been coming back and forth now for upwards of three months," she said. 

Crown prosecutor Jim Sawa told the Okotoks provincial court judge that his team had trouble getting the report from the RCMP, and had been told it could take eight to 12 months to be completed. 

The judge agreed to adjourn the matter until June 22, at which point he said he "expects progress."

Right to speedy trial

Sawa said that between now and then his office would be "reviewing" Maurice's case.

Roulston said progress would be welcomed. 

"I'm hoping that when we come back, we have some sort of information whereby there may be some closure. At least we are setting a trial date," said the defence lawyer.

Roulston told reporters that the adjournment would allow the Crown time to assess its position and give the defence and update on the report's timeline.

Roulston said, if necessary, they would rely on the Jordan decision — where the Supreme Court of Canada decided that for charges within a specific range must be tried within 18 months of being laid. 

"He has a right to have a trial in a timely manner and the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on that quite directly," she said.

Outside of court, there were approximately 60 supporters of Maurice. They were protesting his charges, some holding signs saying the justice system was broken, and others with banners signed by supporters who couldn't make it to the courthouse on Friday.