Devon Larabie, the man accused of murdering Breanna Menacho in Yellowknife in 2020, has fired his third publicly funded lawyer, a move that further delays his trial.
The length of time being taken to try Larabie has already proved contentious. In October last year, by which point Larabie had already dismissed two lawyers, a Crown prosecutor expressed concern.
The so-called Jordan framework – which assesses whether an accused is tried within a reasonable time – sets 30 months as the limit within which a Supreme Court trial should take place. However, delays attributed to the defence are subtracted from the overall time elapsed.
Larabie is accused of the second-degree murder of Menacho in May 2020. Excluding defence delays, this November would mark the 30-month point. Even in October last year, when Larabie had hired third lawyer Scott Cowan, prosecutor Blair McPherson worried that the planned trial would not begin on time.
The trial was finally set to begin next week, but Larabie this week fired Cowan. Court documents do not make clear the reasons for that decision.
Cowan’s departure postpones the trial. A new start date must be found once the question of who will now represent Larabie is settled. There is a limit to the provision of legal aid lawyers in such circumstances and Larabie will appear in court next week to try to establish next steps.
The Covid-19 pandemic contributed to a significant backlog in NWT trials, though the delay in this instance can also be attributed to Larabie’s switches in legal representation.
Any trial, once it begins, is expected to take weeks.
Larabie is accused of killing 22-year-old Menacho during a gathering in his Lanky Court apartment in Yellowknife. He is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court.
In late 2020, two people pleaded guilty to their role as accessories after the fact in Menacho’s killing. Jordan Nande and Lisa Brule were each sentenced to 10 months in jail.