For the sake of “efficiency,” the trial of three men accused in the 2007 gang-related killings of six men – two of them innocent bystanders – is being moved from New Westminster to downtown Vancouver, says a senior B.C. Supreme Court justice.
“Although a number of pre-trial matters have been heard in New Westminster, the efficiency of the trial and the ability of the court to control its process, all of which serve the public interest, require that the location of the trial be moved to Vancouver,” said a web posting from Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen.
Cody Haevischer, Matthew Johnston and Quang Vinh Thang Le were to face trial on Sept. 16 at the Supreme Court complex in New Westminster.
But the high-profile trial will now be moved 22 kilometres northwest from the heart of New Westminster to the downtown Vancouver Law Courts. The case is being heard by a judge alone with no jury.
Defence lawyer Simon Buck, who is defending Mr. Haevischer, described the move as “defence initiated” and said the Vancouver court offers better resources including a superior library and meeting rooms for defence counsel.
Mr. Buck also noted that the downtown Vancouver location will eliminate travel time to New Westminster that cannot be focused on courtroom preparation.
“It’s better for us for sure,” said Mr. Buck.
Neil MacKenzie, a spokesman for the Criminal Justice Branch, described the move as an administrative decision by the courts, but declined to discuss its logistical impact for the Crown. He said the Crown will take the “necessary steps” to accommodate the shift in location.
Both Mr. Buck and Mr. MacKenzie said they were not aware of which courtroom will host the trial.
The three men facing trial next month are charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of six men in a 15-floor unit of a Surrey high-rise on Oct. 19, 2007.
Four men aged 19 to 26 had connections to the gang conflicts of the Lower Mainland. But two of the victims were bystanders caught up in the conflict.
Ed Schellenberg, 55, was a fireplace repairman servicing units in the complex. Twenty-two-year old Christopher Mohan lived across the hall from the unit where the killings occurred and is thought to have been heading out to play basketball when he was intercepted.
James Bacon is also scheduled to face trial in the case, but legal proceedings against him have not yet been scheduled.