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Murder case drags on for victim’s family

Frustrating, but not surprising is how the mother of a woman murdered almost three years ago describes the latest delay in court proceedings against the man accused of the killing.

Jenna Cartwright, 21, disappeared from her Red Deer home in March 2011.

Her partially-clothed body was found early in May 2011 in a ditch near Olds.

On June 20, 2011, police arrested Bashir Gaashaan of no fixed address in Thunder Bay, Ont.

He was charged with first-degree murder, unlawful confinement and committing an indignity to human remains.

Gaashaan, 31, was returned to Alberta, where he remains in custody awaiting trial.

He had asked to be tried by judge and jury in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.

He has been represented by Red Deer defence counsel Will Willms and jury selection was scheduled for Monday morning.

However, the trial was scuttled on Thursday, when Gaashaan went before the court to announce that he had fired his lawyer.

Cartwright’s mother, Lynda Cartwright, said from her home later in the day that she had been anticipating the move.

“Eventually, it will go to trial ... I’m realistic. I know these things can happen,” she said.

Gaashaan and Willms had made a number of court appearances in the months following the arrest and had negotiated a guilty plea to be dealt with early last year.

However, Willms announced in court on Feb. 19, 2013, that his client had changed his mind.

Gaashaan entered a plea of not guilty, and was subsequently arraigned in the Court of Queen’s Bench, with his trial scheduled for Feb. 4 to 21 of this year.

Regardless of what happens to Gaashaan, nothing will bring Jenna back, said Cartwright.

The delays have been frustrating for her and for Jenna’s twin sister, Marissa. Thankfully, at five years old, Jenna’s daughter, Jayda, is too young to feel the effects of the delays, she said.

Gaashaan is scheduled to return to court on April 7 to set a new trial date.

He is also scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Red Deer provincial court on Feb. 28 on other charges, including assault, flight from police, drugs, weapons and breaching release conditions.

Preliminary hearings may be requested by the defence to test part or all of the Crown’s case against an accused person before proceeding to trial.

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