Nova Scotia

Preliminary inquiry set in gay activist's death

A psychiatric assessment has been completed for a man charged with second-degree murder in the fatal beating of a prominent activist in Halifax's gay community, meaning the case will now move to a preliminary inquiry in February.

Raymond Taavel died April on Gottingen Street

A psychiatric assessment has been completed for a man charged with second-degree murder in the fatal beating of a prominent activist in Halifax's gay community. The case will now move to a preliminary inquiry in February.

Andre Noel Denny, a psychiatric patient at the East Coast Forensic Hospital, is charged in the death of Raymond Taavel, who was killed in the early hours of April 17 while trying to break up a fight outside Menz Bar — a popular gay club on Gottingen Street in Halifax.

Denny made a brief appearance in Halifax provincial court on Monday and was remanded to the East Coast Forensic Hospital to maintain his fitness to stand trial.

The contents of his psychiatric assessment have not been made public.

"I cannot discuss the report. It's something that's filed by a psychiatrist who has access to basically the Crown file and all the information," said Crown prosecutor Darrell Martin.

"Mr. Denny has a right to a fair trial and discussing that report would, in fact, disclose a fair amount of evidence and therefore I'm not at liberty to discuss that at this point in time."

Defence lawyer Don Murray said he did not object to the assessment report, so the case is proceeding to a preliminary inquiry.

Murray told the court he had not yet obtained all the necessary disclosure, including an autopsy report and other forensic reports.

A focus hearing has been set for Jan. 7 and the three-day preliminary inquiry begins Feb. 19.

"The preliminary inquiry judge is not the trier of fact. He is a judge that will determine whether or not there's enough evidence for this matter to go forward before a jury," said Martin.

"It's there that the issue of criminal responsibility will be determined if raised by the defence."

Denny was arrested shortly after Taavel, 49, was found on Gottingen Street. Denny had failed to return to the East Coast Forensic Hospital after being granted a one-hour leave — an incident that led government officials to review release protocols for psychiatric patients.

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