A veteran New Brunswick defence lawyer will represent the man accused of killing three RCMP officers when he makes his second appearance at a provincial courthouse, a short drive from the new Shediac correctional facility where he’s being held.
Justin Bourque, the 24-year-old charged with the shooting deaths of Constables Fabrice Gévaudan, Dave Ross and Douglas Larche and injuring two others, has hired David Lutz, a 70-year-old lawyer who has handled 35 murder cases in about as many years practising law.
Reached Wednesday, Mr. Lutz said he has had “minimal” contact with Mr. Bourque but plans to meet with him at the courthouse ahead of Thursday afternoon’s appearance.
“New Brunswick is one of the safest places in the world to live, except for this situation, of course,” he said, referring to the shootings. “I can only tell you that I’m a very experienced criminal lawyer, and there should be a very experienced criminal lawyer here to make sure everything is done properly.”
At Mr. Bourque’s first appearance, on June 6, neither the Crown nor his duty counsel asked for a psychological evaluation. It’s possible, though, that such a request is made Thursday, whether by the Crown, the provincial court judge or the defence. It’s unlikely a preliminary hearing date will be set at this stage, and Mr. Bourque doesn’t have the option to enter a plea Thursday, since that must be done before a superior court judge.
Mr. Lutz declined to speak in detail about the case or his client, though he did confirm Mr. Bourque is being held at the new Southeast Regional Correctional Centre, a $36-million facility about 25 kilometres outside Moncton.
The Pennsylvania-born Mr. Lutz was admitted to the New Brunswick bar in 1977, handling more than 5,000 judge trials and 100 jury trials in the years since. He has appeared in courts across the country, including the Supreme Court of Canada.
The “best case” of his career made headlines in New Yorker magazine and is known as the Grand Manan Five – named for the New Brunswick islanders Mr. Lutz represented after they mounted a vigilante attack against an alleged drug dealer. Although four were found guilty of various crimes in the 2006 incident, none served jail time, he said.
More recently, Mr. Lutz represented a teenaged girl who fatally stabbed a man she said had molested her. She’d been charged with first-degree murder, but was ultimately convicted of second-degree murder.
Mr. Bourque has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.