Nfld. & Labrador

Busy docket: How murder trials will keep the courts busy this year

The CBC's Ariana Kelland looks at the year ahead in Newfoundland and Labrador's court system, which will be handling 15 murder cases.

15 alleged killers are set to appear before the courts across Newfoundland and Labrador in 2017

There are currently 15 murder cases before the courts in Newfoundland and Labrador. They include the cases of Steven Neville, left, Brandon Phillips and Anne Norris. All of them will be tried in St. John's. (CBC)

Courtrooms across Newfoundland and Labrador will be busy with 15 murder cases this year, with preliminary inquiries and trials taking up weeks at a time. 

Six people were killed in the province in 2016 — double the homicide total in 2015.

Preliminary inquiries are scheduled for four men accused in an abduction, robbery and murder in Conception Bay South, as well as for a father alleged to have killed his own daughter before setting fire to his Carbonear home.

Trials are expected to begin in the first half of the year for two women who were charged more than three years ago in connection with the death of Jason Skinner in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Here are the cases before the courts. 

Kenny, Morgan, Lucas and Connolly 

Paul Connolly, 35; Kyle Morgan, 19; Chesley John Lucas, a.k.a. C.J. Clarke, 23, and Calvin Kenny, 25, are all charged with first-degree murder in the death of Steven Miller. (CBC)

Calvin Kenny, Kyle Morgan, Chesley John (C.J.) Lucas and Paul Connolly are alleged to have murdered Steven Miller, 25, in Conception Bay South on July 30, 2016, before dumping his body at the end of a driveway several kilometres from Miller's Seal Cove home. 

All four men are charged with first-degree murder, arson, robbery and forcible confinement.

Four weeks have been set aside at provincial court in St. John's in July for a preliminary inquiry to determine if there is enough evidence for Kenny, Morgan and Lucas to proceed to trial.

Connolly is heading to a separate preliminary hearing in August. He faces additional charges of failure to comply with an undertaking and failure to comply with a probation order. 

Connolly's preliminary hearing is also slated to last four weeks at provincial court. 

Anne Norris

Norris, 28, shown in provincial court in St. John's, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Marcel Reardon. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

Norris, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Marcel Reardon, in January will be given her court date. 

Norris, 28, was arrested and charged after Reardon's body was found outside Harbour View Apartments on Brazil Street in downtown St. John's in the early hours of May 9, 2016.  

His body was found beneath the back stairwell of the building. The superintendent of the property told CBC News it appeared Reardon had been "clubbed to death."

Norris went through a preliminary inquiry in November. It determined there was enough evidence to head to trial. 

Pamela Pike and Wanda Ash

Wanda Ash, left, and Pamela Pike are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jason Skinner in Grand Falls-Windsor in April 2013. (CBC)

In the oldest murder case to work its way through the courts, Pike and Ash are accused of killing Jason Skinner in April 2013. 

Although both women were arrested and charged together, they will be tried separately. 

Ash and Pike are alleged to have murdered Skinner in his Grand Falls-Windsor home.

Skinner's aunt told CBC News in the days following his death that Skinner had intended to go to rehab for drug abuse. 

Jonathan Henoche

Jonathan Thomas Christin Henoche is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Regula Schule, 88, in July 2016. (Jonathan Henoche/Facebook)

Jonathan Henoche, 30, was arrested in September nearly two months after a house fire in Happy Valley-Goose Bay that killed well-known volunteer and advocate Regula Schule, 88.

Schule's death sent shock waves across the Labrador town as residents came to grips with the loss of a prominent member of the community. 

Henoche is charged with second-degree murder, arson, break and enter and breach of probation.

His case will next be called at provincial court in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Jan. 10 for a status update. 

Gilbert Budgell

Gilbert Budgell is accused of killing a man in his Swanee Pool Road home during a home invasion. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

What began as an investigation into a violent home invasion resulted in a murder charge for homeowner Budgell in April 2016.

Budgell, 53, had a charge of attempted murder upgraded to second-degree murder after the man he is alleged to have shot and beaten died in hospital in St. John's.

The second man alleged to have robbed Budgell was never charged. 

Budgell was eventually released on bail but was rearrested after police said he was trafficking drugs

Al Potter and Daniel Leonard

Al Potter, left, and Daniel Leonard are accused of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Dale Porter in North River in June 2014. (CBC)

A major development was made in 2016 in a two-year old homicide investigation, after the RCMP raided property belonging to members of the notorious Vikings Motorcycle Club.

Eleven men were arrested in relation to gang and drug activity. Potter and Leonard were charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Dale Porter, a father of two.

Porter's body was found at the end of his North River, Conception Bay North, property in June 2014. 

Both Potter and Leonard, who police say are members of the Vikings, are scheduled to enter a plea to the charges against them on Feb. 17 in Harbour Grace. 

Trent Butt

Trent Butt, 37, seen here in an older photo posted on his Facebook page, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his five-year-old daughter, Quinn Butt. He is also charged with arson. (Facebook)

The death of bright-eyed five-year-old Quinn Butt in her father's Carbonear home in April 2016 shook Newfoundland and Labrador to its core.

Trent Butt was charged with first-degree murder and arson.

A preliminary inquiry is slated to begin on Jan. 12 in Harbour Grace. 

Steven Neville

Steven Neville, 26, will go to a second trial for the death of Doug Flynn. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

It will be Round 2 for Paradise man Neville in March when he heads to his second-degree murder trial.

A jury found Neville guilty in 2013 of fatally stabbing Doug Flynn, 19, and the attempted murder of another man, Ryan Dwyer in 2010.

But in 2015, Canada's top court overturned his conviction for Flynn's death and the attempted murder of Dwyer, citing errors in instructing the jury.

Neville is out on bail, awaiting trial. 

Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips will not go to trial until November 2017, when six weeks have been set aside to hear evidence. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

Crown attorneys from Nova Scotia have been brought in to prosecute St. John's resident Phillips for his first-degree murder trial in November. 

Phillips is accused of shooting Larry Wellman during a foiled armed robbery at the bar of the Captain's Quarters Hotel in downtown St. John's in fall 2015.

The case has already generated plenty of public attention because of Phillips's connection to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball. 

Phillips was in a relationship with Ball's daughter, Jade Ball.

Six weeks have been set aside for Phillips's trial. 

Graham Veitch

Graham Veitch, 18, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of David Collins, assaulting his mother and brother, assaulting a police officer, stealing a vehicle and evading police. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

The pharmacy community was shaken at the sudden death of Collins, a prominent St. John's pharmacist, just a week before Christmas.

Collins's girlfriend's son, Graham Veitch, 19, is alleged to have murdered Collins at his Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove home.

Veitch is also accused of assaulting his mother and brother, and stealing Collins's vehicle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.

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