Saskatoon murder trial on hold as police investigate new revelations
A Saskatoon murder trial is being adjourned to allow police to follow-up on "significant information" that just came to the Crown prosecutor's attention Wednesday.
Rene Jobe Merasty, 24, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Hailey Belanger-Weeseekase in a bathroom of a Confederation Park apartment suite in July 2020.
After two days of the judge-alone trial in front of Justice Daryl Labach, the case was adjourned after a brief delay Wednesday morning.
Crown prosecutor Carla Dewar said she was not comfortable proceeding with the trial because of new information that police need to investigate. She did not provide any further information.
The defence agreed with Dewar, saying the significant information "affects the fairness of the trial."
"Although it's rare, an important component to properly prosecuting and properly defending a case is making sure that we have all information," defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle said. "It's an appropriate interruption of this trial."
The matter will be back at Court of King's Bench on April 5.
Over the previous two days of the trial, police officers and a key witness presented testimony.
Officers investigating Belanger-Weeseekase's death walked the court through surveillance video of people going in and out of the apartment complex.
A woman, who can't be identified because she was a minor at the time of the murder, presented her testimony as a witness at the apartment that night during Tuesday's trial. According to Pfefferle, she testified that she and Belanger-Weeseekase were members of the Last Kings street gang.
She was 15-years-old at the time of the crime, and was originally charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death.
Pfefferle said "she was appearing careful to not give information" as a way of protecting others in the gang.
"It would seem particularly ironic that you would be promoted after allegedly implicating a person who was involved in the very gang that you've shared membership of," he said.
Pfefferle mentioned other gangs were mentioned "in passing," but wouldn't elaborate any further.
The young witness also described "a horrific crime scene" in the bathroom of the apartment where the alleged attack occurred.
"It was described in very, very graphic terms as well as the surveillance video demonstrating a body being carried out. It was extremely graphic; difficult for the family, no doubt, to observe that stuff," Pfefferle said.
With the trial delayed for at least a week, Pfefferle said his team will continue to "push" his position that Merasty is not guilty.
"This is a case of who done it and who was the person that committed these atrocities against this deceased person," Pfefferle said. "Our position has been, and will be, that Mr. Merasty is not guilty of second degree murder, and that will continue to be our position."
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