Trial delayed for man accused of leaving N.S. gas station attendant for dead

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HALIFAX - There's been yet another delay in getting Michael Derrick Robicheau to trial on charges of raping and trying to kill a Halifax-area gas station clerk in 2007.
The case was adjourned two months ago to allow the defence to obtain a second opinion on whether Robicheau was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the attack.
That opinion was expected by Thursday, but lawyer Pat Atherton told a provincial court judge that the expert won't be examining his client until the middle of the month.
Judge Alanna Murphy ordered everyone to return to court March 1.
In the meantime, Robicheau will remain in custody at the East Coast Forensic Hospital.
Doctors at the hospital submitted a report to the court in December saying that Robicheau was not suffering from any disorder in August 2007 that would have made him not criminally responsible for his alleged actions.
That followed an earlier report, received by the court in October, that said the 34-year-old is mentally fit to stand trial on charges of attempted murder, sexual assault, robbery, unlawful confinement and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
If the defence expert thinks that Robicheau was not criminally responsible for the attack, a hearing will have to be scheduled so that a judge can make a ruling on the issue.
If the expert comes to the same conclusion as staff at the forensic hospital, the case will be ready to move to trial.
Robicheau is accused of attacking a woman who was working the overnight shift at the gas station and leaving her for dead with a slit throat but managed to survive.
Police found Robicheau hiding in nearby bushes. He had been released from prison on statutory parole 10 days earlier and was reported missing from a halfway house about four hours before the attack.
He pleaded guilty to the charges in January 2008 and the Crown launched a dangerous-offender application, but the pleas were withdrawn in September 2008 after doctors said he was psychotic and mentally unfit to be sentenced.
In December 2008, when Robicheau was showing no signs of improvement, the court ordered that he be moved from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility to the adjacent forensic hospital, where the Nova Scotia Criminal Code Review Board would determine what to do with him.
Forced to take medication, Robicheau regained his mental fitness.
The victim of the attack, whose identity is banned from publication, was visibly irritated by the latest delay in the case.
"She's looking for closure, obviously," said Crown attorney Perry Borden said. "She thought today there would be an expert's second opinion and we'd be moving on from here.
"She wants to put this matter behind her. ... She's been through a lot, but I think the court process in and of itself is becoming trying for her, to say the least."

Organizations: East Coast Forensic Hospital, Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Nova Scotia

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