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Apeal Court rejects bid to halt deliberations in murder appeal

Thomas Ted Barrett is shown exiting the Sydney courthouse in this file photo.
Thomas Ted Barrett is shown exiting the Sydney courthouse in this file photo.
SYDNEY, N.S. —

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has rejected a request by convicted murderer Thomas Ted Barrett to cease deliberations of his appeal.

On Oct. 26, the Appeal Court heard arguments concerning Barrett’s appeal of his 2016 conviction for second-degree murder in the strangulation death of 19-year-old Brett Elizabeth McKinnon of Glace Bay.

McKinnon was reported missing in 2006 and her skeletal remains were found in 2008.

One of two grounds being argued is the admission of a statement at the murder trial from a witness who died prior to the trial.

After hearing arguments, the three-member appellate panel, including Chief Justice Michael Wood, reserved decision.

On Nov. 13, Barrett, 45, filed notice that he was now going to represent himself and requested the panel to cease its deliberations on arguments already advanced and disregard his lawyer’s submissions. He was represented at the appeal by Mathieu Boutet.

While the Appeal Court panel granted Barrett’s request to represent himself, it denied his bid to cease deliberations.

“It is a remedy which ought to be granted only in the clearest and most compelling of circumstances,” Wood said in a decision released Friday.

The decision noted that Barrett’s justification for requesting the panel cease deliberations was because he felt Boutet failed to present evidence implicating a lawyer in wrongdoing.

“In providing further explanation, it is clear Mr. Barrett is very concerned the various allegations regarding the conduct of his trial counsel have not been put before this court,” Wood said.

“He is afraid something is being covered up and insinuates Mr. Boutet may have purposely decided to protect another lawyer.”

The decision stated that Barrett’s materials did not identify any other concerns with the nature of submissions made by Boutet, who only represented Barrett on appeal, which the panel is now considering.

“His concerns all relate to Mr. Boutet's alleged failure to present evidence regarding the ineffectiveness of his trial counse," Wood said. "This is a ground of appeal that has not yet been argued and, as such, the panel is not deliberating on that issue at this time.”

The panel concluded that if Barrett’s appeal is not allowed on the grounds already advanced in the October hearing, he will have the opportunity to present such evidence and argument relating to his trial counsel.

Barrett, of Glace Bay, was sentenced in 2017 to life in prison with no chance for parole for 15 years.

He previously won a challenge to have a lawyer appointed to represent him in the Appeal Court.

Barrett was also charged with second-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Laura Catherine Jessome, of Bras d'Or, whose remains were found inside a hockey bag floating along the shore of the Mira River in Marion Bridge in May 2012.

The murder charge was withdrawn and Barrett pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of being an accessory after the fact to murder and was sentenced to five years in prison. Given the time he had spent on remand in connection with the case, the sentence was considered served.

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