Nfld. & Labrador

Labrador media coverage a key to why a murder trial is moving to St. John's next year

Regula Schule, 88, died July 24 after police, responding to a fire at her home, found the 88-year-old unresponsive inside.

Media coverage of Regule Schule's prominence in community factor in decision to move trial

Regula Schule with her daughter, Susie. Schule, 88, was found unresponsive in her home by firefighters in July 2016. (John Gaudi/CBC)

A man accused of killing a well-respected community leader in Labrador is heading to trial in June, but Jonathan Henoche won't face a jury in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Henoche, 32, is accused of first-degree murder, arson with disregard for human life, arson with property damage, break and entry and robbery.

Regule Schule, 88, was found unresponsive in her home in the midst of a house fire July 24.

The RCMP laid a charge of second-degree murder against Henoche, following a lengthy investigation. However, the charge was upgraded to first-degree murder after the preliminary hearing. 

Unfair trial

Defence lawyer Bob Buckingham argued at a hearing in May that it wouldn't be possible to empanel an impartial jury in Happy Valley-Goose Bay given the media coverage that the case has received.

"Counsel pointed out that the media coverage was not just extensive but it was personally sympathetic and predominantly driven by the story of the victim and her loss to the community," Justice Brian Furey wrote in his decision.

"The reporting related to human interest, personality-based reporting that engaged readers with detailed stories about the night of the alleged murder, the aftermath and loss suffered by the victim's adopted daughter and the tremendous loss to the community based on the victim's long-term contribution to the community."

Buckingham also noted that the town has a small population and that Henoche is not from the community.

Jonathan Thomas Christin Henoche, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in Schule's death. (Facebook)

Henoche has been transferred out of the Correctional Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for his own safety. Henoche would have had to have remained in cells at the RCMP detachment for the duration of his trial.

The Crown had argued that a juror can be impartial, even if they have heard or seen information about the alleged crime.

The Crown said the logical place would have been in the town of Wabush — which is still in Labrador. 

Furey ultimately sided with the defence and shared the same concerns over pre-trial publicity. 

Henoche is scheduled to go to trial at Supreme Court in St. John's on June 3, 2019. 

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