Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
Lawyer Delmar Doucette speaks to tbnewswatch.com about the continued issued with the jury roll system and its lack of First Nations representation. Sheldon Wabason, accused of second-degree murder, had his case stayed for a year as the courts try to grapple with the jury roll issue in an effort to provide the accused with a fair trial.
THUNDER BAY -- Shaldon Wabason is free on bail after the proceedings of his murder trial were handed a lengthy stay.
Superior Court Justice John McCartney on Thursday ordered a one-year stay of proceedings in the second-degree murder trial of Wabason, who was charged in connection with the March 2011 death of 54-year-old Thunder Bay man Robert Topping.
Wabason’s lawyer Delmar Doucette says an inadequate representation of First Nations people flawed the jury role, hindering his client’s ability to receive a fair trial.
Jury roll problems are nothing new, he added.
“I think it’s a huge problem,” Doucette said Monday. “It’s a problem that has been festering for almost 15 years and it still hasn’t been fixed.”
Wabason has been released on bail as a condition of the stay. He had been in custody for three years since first being charged.
It is alleged Wabason was one of four people who broke into the Minnesota Street house that Paulette Cloutier was house-sitting for her son. Cloutier contacted Topping after seeing shadowy figures outside the house.
Four suspects entered and demanded money, jewelry and drugs.
There was an altercation and Topping was stabbed four times in the back, with two of the wounds reaching his lungs.
He was pronounced dead at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre with a lack of oxygen and blood loss determined as the causes of death.
Wabason, Nicholas Webber, Christopher Hawk and Cody Thompson were all initially charged with second-degree murder following Topping’s death.
Wabason, who was 19-years-old at the time, is the last of the four face charges.
Hawk pleaded guilty to one count of robbery in April 2012 with the murder charge being dropped while Webber pleaded guilty to manslaughter and break and enter in September 2012 and was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Thompson died in custody in August 2011.
Doucette said he is hopeful a representative jury roll could be put together by next year.
The second-degree murder charge against Wabason has not been tested , nor proven, in court.