Edmonton

Jury trial halted in death of Edmonton toddler after accused killer fails to appear

Hundreds of potential jurors were sent home from an Edmonton courthouse Monday after accused murderer Joey Crier failed to show up at court. Crier and his ex-girlfriend, Tasha Mack, are charged with the second-degree murder of toddler Anthony Raine.

Joey Crier and Tasha Mack will instead be tried by judge alone

The body of 19-month-old Anthony Raine was found in Edmonton in April 2017. The second-degree murder trial for his accused killers is supposed to begin this week. (Facebook)

Hundreds of potential jurors were sent home from an Edmonton courthouse Monday after an accused murderer failed to show up at court. 

A pair of Edmonton courtrooms were packed to overflowing with 279 people called to report for jury duty.

They had no idea the case they would be asked to sit on involved the April 2017 death of 19-month-old Anthony Raine. The toddler's dead body was discovered behind a north Edmonton church. At the time, police said the cause of death was head trauma.

Joey Crier and Tasha Mack are both charged with second-degree murder, criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessaries of life.

Crier was the victim's biological father and Mack was Crier's girlfriend at the time of the toddler's death.

Mack was granted bail in June 2018 and Crier was freed on bail last September.

At the start of jury selection Monday morning, Mack was in the prisoner's box but there was no sign of Crier.

His lawyer, Amanda Hart-Dowhun, told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Rob Graesser that Crier had contacted her by text at about 9 a.m. to say he was running late but was en route from Maskwacis, located about 100 kilometres southeast of Edmonton. Hart-Dowhun added she was receiving updates from Crier on how close he was to downtown Edmonton.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Joey Crier, charged with the second-degree murder of his 19-month old son, Anthony Raine. (Facebook)

When Crier had failed to appear in court by noon, Graesser issued a warrant for his arrest.

He told the hundreds of impatient potential jurors, "The wheels of justice creak along very slowly. We can't start until everything is absolutely ready to go and there's one piece that hasn't fallen into place yet."

The group was provided with lunch, then dozens lined up to explain to the judge why they would be unable to serve jury duty for a month-long trial. Graesser excused most who asked.

By early afternoon, it was a moot point. All the potential jurors were allowed to leave when the judge decided Crier had lost his right to a jury trial.

If Crier is taken into custody, a judge-alone trial for both him and Mack will begin on Wednesday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston

Court and crime reporter

Janice Johnston is an investigative journalist with CBC Edmonton who has covered Alberta courts and crime for more than three decades. She won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award in 2016 for her coverage of the trial of a 13-year-old Alberta boy who was acquitted of killing his abusive father. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca.

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