Friday, March 26, 2010
Labrosierre, accused of first degree murder, headed directly to trial
A Manitoba man accused of first-degree murder in the slayings of his parents and brother nearly 4.5 years ago will go straight to trial without the benefit of a preliminary hearing.
Justice officials authorized a direct indictment earlier this month for 39-year-old Denis Jerome Labossiere.
Direct indictments have also been authorized for two co-accused, Michael Hince, 22, and Jeremie Toupin, 23.
Labossiere, a Hells Angels associate, and Hince have been charged on the same indictment and will be tried together. Trial dates for all three accused have not been set.
Police allege Labossiere's father Fernand, mother Rita and brother Remi were shot execution-style in their St. Leon area farmhouse before the building was burned to the ground, Nov. 26, 2005.
Preliminary hearings are held to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. Defence lawyers are often critical of direct indictments as they don't allow an accused the opportunity to test the evidence against him prior to trial.
Labossiere is also charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit murder in an alleged plot to kill two other family members and an acquaintance. The alleged targets, all Winnipeg residents, were not harmed.
In April 2008, Labossiere's nephew Joel Labossiere and his pregnant wife Magdalena were shot to death in their St. Vital home. Police charged 40-year-old Kelly John Clarke with two counts of first-degree murder.
Manitoba Justice has authorized a direct criminal indictment against a man accused of killing his elderly parents and brother in 2005.
The controversial move — one used sparingly by provincial prosecutors — means the high-profile case against Denis Jerome Labossiere, 39, will proceed directly to trial without a preliminary inquiry.
The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine if the Crown's case is strong enough to take to trial.
Labossiere and two other men are accused of three counts of first-degree murder in connection to the shooting deaths of Labossiere's parents and brother in 2005.
Fernand Labossiere, 78, his wife, Rita, 74, and their son Remi, 44, were found dead in their home in St. Leon, Man., after a fire in 2005. It was later determined they had been shot.
The Crown has also obtained a direct indictment against Michel Hince a 22-year-old co-accused in the case facing the same charges, but no such order yet exists for Jeremie Toupin, another man accused in the killings.
However, provincial court records indicate Toupin's charges remain active and he is due back in court on Friday.
Don Slough, Manitoba's director of prosecutions, signed the direct indictments against Labossiere and Hince on Mar. 9, according to court records.
The decision to bring the men straight to trial means the Crown does not have to show its evidence against Labossiere or Hince prior to trial. Any witnesses will only have to be called once to testify.
The two men were re-arrested at Stony Mountain Institution and formally informed of the Crown's order last Thursday. They are due back in court on Apr. 14.
The decision, however, is not without controversy in Manitoba.
In his report on the inquiry into the wrongful conviction of James Driskell, whose murder conviction was quashed after he spent more than 12 years in prison, inquiry commissioner Patrick LeSage recommended policy be revised to ensure direct indictment is only used in the most exceptional circumstances.
I don't support direct indictments as I believe that preliminary hearings are essential and very important. I see problems with the Crown having to prove that they have enough evidence, to the court. Preliminary hearing should happen in all cases of murder, in my opinion, otherwise I see it as an unfair trial.