Nova Scotia

Murder trial postponed for man accused in Cole Harbour home invasion

Markel Jason Downey, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ashley MacLean Kearse, who died four years after she was shot in a home invasion in Cole Harbour, N.S.

Markel Jason Downey accused of shooting Ashley MacLean Kearse, who died four years later

Markel Jason Downey is shown leaving court in Halifax in 2017 following his acquittal on charges of attempted murder. (CBC)

A murder trial that was scheduled to begin in two weeks in Halifax has been postponed indefinitely.

Markel Jason Downey, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ashley MacLean Kearse, who died four years after she was shot in a home invasion in Cole Harbour, N.S.

On Monday, Downey's lawyer, Pat MacEwen, indicated in Nova Scotia Supreme Court he is withdrawing from the case.

His reasons cannot be reported so as to protect Downey's right to a fair trial. MacEwen has agreed to stay on the case to help Downey secure a new lawyer.

Justice Timothy Gabriel reluctantly agreed to postpone the judge and jury trial. The judge said he will do what he can to get it rescheduled before the end of this year.

Downey remains in custody.

Ashley MacLean Kearse was shot during the home invasion. She is seen here outside a courtroom in 2017. (CBC)

He initially faced 28 charges in connection with the 2014 incident, including three of attempted murder. Kearse, who was initially paralyzed in the shooting, testified at his original trial. Downey was acquitted of all charges in February 2017.

Those acquittals were overturned on appeal and Downey had faced a new trial on charges of attempted murder until Kearse died last year due to what the medical examiner determined were injuries sustained in the shooting. Downey was subsequently charged with first-degree murder.

He is also accused of attempted murder related to two other victims who were wounded at the time of the home invasion.

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