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Judge denies Jeremy Skibicki's request for trial without jury | Serial murders of indigenous women

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Jeremy Skibicki faces four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Rebecca Contois, Morgan Beatrice Harris, Marcedes Myran and a fourth woman who has not been identified.

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Suspected serial killer Jeremy Skibicki does not have the right to a judge-only trial, according to Manitoba Court of King's Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal. Man accused of murdering four Indigenous women didn't want jury trial charges of first degree murder, between April 29 and June 6 of this year.

The Crown alleges that he killed four Indigenous women, whose remains were in a municipal dump or are believed to still be, recalls Judge Joyal, in his 29-page decision read Wednesday.

He explains that the accused requested a trial by judge only, which requires the consent of the Crown in murder trials. However, the latter did not accept it, and the defense lawyers launched a constitutional challenge.

In his decision, Glenn Joyal indicates that there is no right guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to a trial before a judge only.

Serial murders of indigenous women

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The defense argued that the Crown should not have the power to veto an accused's choice of mode of trial. She argued that there was no reason for this right of veto in murder trials, when it does not exist for various other serious offenses, indicates the judge.

Now, in urging this court to reject the accused's challenge and in responding to the accused's general position, the Crown suggests that the accused's argument can be summarized in one idea: an accused should be able to choose, unilaterally, its mode of judgment, continues Mr. Joyal.

The courts have already ruled that the article which confers the right of veto to the Crown was constitutional in the face of similar challenges, adds the judge.

There is no question that a person charged with an offense that would carry a sentence of five years or more has a constitutional right to a jury trial. […] That said, the Supreme Court of Canada [ruled] that the opposite is not true.

Furthermore, Glenn Joyal asserts that this law is not arbitrary, because its effect is clearly linked to its object. He notes that juries are a social institution whose importance has long been recognized.

He recalls that the Attorney General and Crown prosecutors must take into account the public interest.

Defense lawyers for accused persons do not do not have this obligation. Thus, it is entirely logical that a certain discretion rests with the Attorney General to determine the method of judging the most serious offense of the Criminal Code, writes the judge.

Citing a decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal, he asserts that the section of law in question balances competing interests: those of the accused on one side, and the interests of society, including those of victims and witnesses on the other side, in order to preserve a fair and impartial criminal justice system.

Additionally, the law provides limited circumstances where an accused may seek review of the Attorney General's decision not to consent to a judge-only trial. To do this, he must establish that there was an abuse of process or demonstrate that there cannot be a fair trial before judge and jury.

The accused has not provided evidence to suggest that there would be an infringement of his right to a fair trial in this case if tried by a judge and jury, summarizes Judge Joyal.< /p>

Jeremy Skibicki is charged with the murders of Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, Rebecca Contois, and an unidentified woman named Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman.

Police believe the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran are at the Prairie Green landfill north of Winnipeg, while those of Rebecca Contois were found in 2022 at another landfill managed by the City. Authorities don't know where Buffalo Woman's are.

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