Judge allows man charged in beating death of Raymond Taavel to fire lawyer

Haley Ryan, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - The Cape Breton man accused in the death of Halifax gay-rights activist Raymond Taavel has been allowed to fire his lawyer on the day his murder trial was set to begin, even if the decision was “not in his best interests,” a judge said.

Andre Denny leaves Halifax provincial court on March 19, 2013.

On Tuesday, 35-year-old Andre Noel Denny appeared before Judge Peter Rosinski in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax and said he did not want Donald Murray as a lawyer because he was “no longer trustworthy.”

“He’s very angry at me, and I’m very angry at him, and it will never be resolved,” Denny said, dressed in a black sweater, orange sneakers and holding an eagle feather.

Murray has represented Denny since August 2012, despite a request to fire him once before that was eventually taken back. Denny, from Membertou, was set to begin his second-degree murder trial in Taavel’s death on Tuesday.

Denny made various remarks about the night Taavel died outside the Menz Bar on Gottingen Street in the spring of 2012 to Rosinski, which the judge attempted to stop and advised Denny he should not say anything more until the trial.

Rosinski told the court Murray had asked to be removed as Denny’s council because their lawyer-client relationship was “irretrievably broken.”

Although Rosinski said he was reluctant to grant the request because “a great deal” of resources had gone into preparing for the eight-week trial, he allowed

Murray to be removed from the case after an in-camera hearing.

When court resumed, Rosinski said Denny’s father, Lawrence Paul, had spoken in favour of Murray remaining Denny’s lawyer but Denny remained “adamant” he wanted new legal council.

“As a parent, Mr. Paul worried Mr. Denny was not making the best choices for himself,” Rosinski said, but added Denny has been declared fit to stand trial so no one could interfere with his decisions “even if those decisions made by him are not in his best interests.”

Rosinski adjourned the trial and Denny will next appear on Sept.25 to present a new lawyer.

Crown attorney Darrell Martin said a new trial will not likely begin until next year, as Denny’s new lawyer would need time to go over the case files, but it depends on who is chosen to represent him.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Supreme Court

Geographic location: Halifax, Gottingen Street

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