The man accused of kidnapping a British Columbia toddler six months ago has waived his right to a preliminary hearing and has elected to be tried by a judge alone, his lawyer said Monday.
Randall Hopley, 46, who is charged with kidnapping, abduction and break and enter, is in custody in a Kamloops prison, but he appeared briefly by video in a Cranbrook courtroom to elect that his case be heard in the Supreme Court, the province's superior trial level.
He is scheduled to appear again on March 26 to enter a plea in the disappearance of Kienan Hebert.
The three-year-old mysteriously vanished from his Sparwood home in the southeast corner of B.C. last September. He was returned four days later. Someone left him in the family's temporarily vacant residence and called 911 to alert officials that the youngster was safe.
The boy was physically unharmed, according to the RCMP and his parents, Paul and Tammy Hebert.
Seven days after Kienan was snatched and Mr. Hopley was named as the only suspect in the case, he was arrested in an Alberta gravel quarry near a Bible camp just east of the B.C. boundary.
Mr. Hopley's lawyer, William Thorne, said the decision to forgo a preliminary inquiry was made after private discussions with his client in light of the evidence gathered by the Crown.
Usually, preliminary hearings are used to test the mettle of the prosecution's case.
Mr. Thorne said any trial would take a significant amount of time and would not likely occur until after summer.
"It is what it is," Mr. Hebert said. "If it takes a bit of time to get the correct actions, to have the correct effect, then we wait."
However, before he enters a plea, Mr. Hopley is slated to appear in a Lethbridge, Alta. court on March 23 for a preliminary hearing to determine if there's enough evidence to go to trial in connection with numerous charges related to break-ins and property offences in that province.