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Glace Bay man accused of murder seeks news counsel

SYDNEY, N.S. - A Supreme Court trial for a Glace Bay man charged with second-degree murder could again be delayed as the accused is now without a lawyer.

Thomas Ted Barrett, 41, is charged in relation to the May 2012 death of 21-year-old Laura Catherine Jessome of Bras d’Or whose body was found in a hockey bag along the shores of the Mira River in Marion Bridge.

Barrett elected to be tried by judge and jury and his trial is to be held from May 1-19.

He was to be represented by Dartmouth-based lawyer Michelle James who has been advised that she would be in a conflict of interest position in taking the case.

That advice came from the ethics committee of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society that ruled because a lawyer in the same firm as James represented a co-accused in the case, Morgan James MacNeil, it would be a conflict for James to handle the Barrett file.

James formally withdrew from the case Monday during an appearance before Justice Frank Edwards in Sydney.

Regional Crown prosecutor Kathryn Pentz said Monday that Nova Scotia Legal Aid has confirmed that another lawyer could be available.

The case is to return to Supreme Court Jan. 16 for an update on the status of representation for Barrett.

The setting down of trial dates had previously been delayed because of Barrett and potential lawyers being unable to form a solicitor/client relationship.

MacNeil, 25, also of Glace Bay, was charged with second-degree murder in the Jessome case but pleaded guilty to manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in a federal prison.

Barrett was convicted in March on another count of second-degree murder in connection with the 2006 death of Brett Elizabeth McKinnon, 19, who was initially treated as a missing person’s case until her skeletal remains were uncovered in 2008.

Barrett was sentenced to life in prison for the crime.

Both McKinnon and Jessome died after being strangled.

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