Accused murderer’s lawyer likely to withdraw

Averill Baker says Pynn will seek new counsel

Rosie Mullaley
Published on August 3, 2011
Lawyers involved in the murder case charging Philip Wayne Pynn and Lyndon Butler were in provincial court in St. John’s Tuesday to discuss pre-trial applications. From left, Jeff Brace, Butler’s lawyer, Averill Baker, who has been representing Pynn, and Crown prosecutors Wendy Zdebiak and Lisa Stead. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

It appears Averill Baker will withdraw as defence lawyer for an accused murderer.

In provincial court in St. John’s Tuesday afternoon, Baker told the judge that Philip Wayne Pynn will look for another lawyer to represent him.

Pynn, 25, is one of two men charged in connection with the fatal shooting of Nick Winsor during an alleged armed robbery July 9 at a home on Portugal Cove Road.

He’s also accused of attempting to murder the owner of the home where the shooting took place.

Two weeks ago, the Crown filed an application to have Baker removed as Pynn’s counsel due to a perceived conflict of interest.

The hearing to argue that

matter was scheduled to be held Aug. 29.

“I’m 99 per cent sure the hearing on the 29th will not be necessary and he will have new counsel,” Baker told Judge Robert Hyslop.

The application was made after the Crown learned Baker had represented the owner of the home where the shooting took place in a separate case dating back several years.

Crown prosecutors Wendy Zdebiak and Lisa Stead had informed Baker she may be called as a witness in the case as well. They also chose to withhold disclosure documents from Baker.

Baker had objected to the request, stating she only represented the homeowner in a half-day proceeding and that she did not remember details of the case.

But Baker did an about-face during Tuesday’s hearing, which was originally scheduled to discuss whether or not the evidence from Baker’s hearing would be banned from publication.

The Crown, however, had a few surprises of its own, presenting two more applications to the court.

The first request was to have the affidavits (sworn documents from the investigation) involving Baker’s case sealed and the second, for their contents to be banned from publication.

Both Baker and Jeff Brace — who represents Pynn’s co-accused, Lyndon Butler — consented to them.

It’s not known what information the affidavits contains, but Baker was relieved to hear that the Crown’s latest applications would not prevent her from filing an application to have the contents destroyed in the future.

While Hyslop said his preference would be not to seal the documents, since the court is based on openness, he said he understood the lawyers’ wanting to have the information banned for now.

He said it would be in the best interest of justice and would protect the integrity of the process, ensuring Pynn and Butler get a fair trial.

“The only thing that gives me pause, is I don’t feel confident doing something like this in camera,” Hyslop said.

“It’s all too easy for the public, who are represented by the media, to think we’re up to something no good …

“These are the most serious charges anybody can face … and the (defence lawyers) have consented to sealing the documents.”

Hyslop said he preferred not to see the contents of the documents and warned everyone to avoid speculation.

Butler wasn’t present for the proceedings, but Pynn appeared via videoconference from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary.

Baker left quickly after proceedings, avoiding reporters.

The case of Pynn and Butler will be back in court Aug. 29 for a status update.