A man who bailed on his sexual assault jury trial last month – causing a city-wide police manhunt – will now be tried by a judge alone, a Yellowknife court heard on Monday.
Alden Joseph Lennie, 35, was missing for 17 days before being arrested on February 8, on the strength of an arrest warrant issued from the bench in NWT Supreme Court on January 23.
That was the second day Lennie failed to show for a jury trial – as a woman waited to testify – forcing Justice Andrew Mahar to call a mistrial and send the 12 jurors home.
The only way Lennie could have successfully argued for a new jury trial was if he could provide a legitimate excuse for not showing up and not contacting the court.
“By conceding that he would not retain his jury trial, he’s conceding he did not have a legitimate excuse not to attend [his original trial],” Chief Justice Louise Charbonneau said in court on Monday. Lennie looked on from the glass-enclosed prisoner’s dock.
It’s not known why Lennie decided to bail on his trial. Cabin Radio understands he was in the city throughout.
Lennie has been charged with failure to attend court in addition to his existing charge of sexual assault.
Defence lawyer Jay Bran said Lennie won’t be seeking bail at this time.
He will now be tried by judge alone, over two days, “at the earliest possible opportunity,” said Charbonneau.
Lennie is accused of raping a woman while she slept at a mutual friend’s apartment in Yellowknife. DNA belonging to Lennie was found in samples retrieved from the woman in hospital and tested at a federal laboratory, the court heard.
On the second day of his no-show at trial, Crown prosecutor Blair MacPherson told the court “extensive police resources” had gone into the search for Lennie.
The woman was waiting to testify from behind a screen, a normal request for this type of trial, when Lennie failed to appear.
Lennie has not had a chance to challenge any evidence. He remains innocent until proven guilty.