Lawyer shakeup delays start of murder trial
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Mar 09, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Lawyer shakeup delays start of murder trial

Stratford Gazette

Jeff Heuchert

A last-minute change in counsel has delayed the start of the first-degree murder trial for Michael Schweitzer.

The Milverton man was in Stratford's Superior Court of Justice Monday morning for what was scheduled to be the first day of a planned three-week hearing.

Instead, Justice Thomas Heeney dealt with an application filed last week asking that the accused's co-counsel, Frances Brennan and Wendy Harris Bentley, be removed from the case. The crown did not object and the request was granted.

"It's regrettable, obviously, that the matter is not moving forward as originally scheduled," Heeney told the lawyers, reminding them that due to scheduling conflicts it is possible the trial might not be heard now until 2016.

A new trial date will be decided on May 29. Heeney also ordered another judicial pre-trial – an informal closed-door meeting between lawyers and the judge to discuss various issues about the trial.

Brennan and Harris Bentley had represented Schweitzer since shortly after he was arrested and charged in late 2012 for the shooting death of Stratford Northwestern student Nicole Wagler and the attempted murder of his friend and housemate Tyler Baker.

There was no explanation provided for the change in counsel.

"These things happen, unfortunately," Harris Bentley said afterwards.

Schweitzer has retained London, Ont. defence attorney Phillip Millar, who had an agent present on his behalf at Monday's proceedings.

Schweitzer remains in custody.

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