Judge, Crown upset by the holdup
Lawyer Jeff Brace (lower left) and Trevor Pardy, sitting in the prisoner's dock in a courtroom at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's, await for proceedings to begin Monday. The court was informed the trial would be delayed because Pardy has fired Brace as his lawyer. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram
It was supposed to be the start of a murder trial.
Instead, it ended with the defence lawyer being dismissed, along with 12 jury members and two alternates.
The trial for accused murderer Trevor Pardy was postponed Monday morning after the court was told that Pardy and his lawyer have parted ways.
“I’ve been fired,” Jeff Brace told Justice Wayne Dymond in Newfoundland Supreme Court.
Brace said he and Pardy have been disagreeing about how to conduct the defence.
“There’s been a difference of opinion,” said Brace, who said he’s never been fired before. “He’s a very bright man and he has his own ideas about how things should be done.”
Brace didn’t say exactly what they disagreed on, but said things came to a head at around 9 p.m. the night before.
“In my own defence, this is my seventh murder trial,” Brace told the judge. “I’ve done several jury trials. I have 25 years’ experience.”
However, he said the ongoing issues between him and Pardy were just too much to resolve.
“I don’t want the public to think this is solely on him,” Brace said. “He was disappointed with the direction we were going.
“He’s not a bad guy. This isn’t a game. The differences are irreconcilable.”
Pardy is accused of killing his former girlfriend Triffie Wadman on Oct. 1 of last year in St. John’s.
The incident happened on Boggy Hall Place, off Forbes Street in the Topsail Road area of the capital city. Witnesses called the RNC around
1 a.m. that day reporting a woman was lying in the street.
Wadman, of Freshwater, Placentia Bay, who lived in St. John’s, was brought to hospital and treated for gunshot wounds. She died of her injuries.
Pardy, who grew up in Keels, Bonavista Bay, but lived in Mount Pearl, was taken into custody following a four-hour standoff with police following the shooting. He’s been in custody ever since, having been denied bail.
He’s pleaded not guilty to all three charges he faces: first-degree murder, using a firearm to commit a crime, and having an unlicensed weapon (a nine-millimetre handgun).
The trial was expected to last for three weeks.
The judge expressed his displeasure with the last-minute development and said he hoped it wouldn’t lead to further delays down the road.
He mentioned the case of Leo Crockwell, who was convicted after a standoff with the RCMP at his family’s Bay Bulls house.
Crockwell represented himself at his trial after going through several lawyers. Dymond said accused people were “going through lawyers like cheddar cheese.”
When Dymond asked the Crown’s views on recent developments in the Pardy case, prosecutor Iain Hollett wasn’t happy about the setback.
“If Mr. Pardy wants to postpone this, he can certainly do that,” Hollett said. “But there are people upstairs (the jury), witnesses are here and members of the (Wadman) family are here.
“While Mr. Pardy has the right to a speedy trial, the (family), the people and the community also have a right to have this heard quickly as well.”
Before the jury was called in, Brace asked the judge for permission to leave. Dymond agreed.
Before exiting the courtroom, Brace walked over to the prisoner’s dock, shook Pardy’s hand and the two hugged.
When jury members entered the courtroom, Dymond told the jury that the trial cannot proceed due to the issues with Pardy and his counsel. He said it is “very unfortunate,” but noted it’s often the way things go in court.
“I hope it was, at least, an eye-opener as to how the process works,” he said.
He thanked them for their time and then formally dismissed them.
A new jury will now have to be chosen for the trial.
The case will be called in court again Dec. 3 for an update.
Family members of Wadman became emotional in court when it was decided the trial would be delayed. They opted not to speak to reporters outside court.
When contacted by The Telegram later in the day, Brace also declined comment.