The trial for a Red Deer man accused of second-degree murder will go ahead after a judge refused to grant a stay of proceedings on Wednesday.
Red Deer lawyer Patty MacNaughton argued on Tuesday that it took at least 35 months for Nathan Michael Desharnais, 28, to get his day in court, which amounted to an unreasonable delay.
The delay is well beyond the 30-month window for serious crimes established by a Supreme Court of Canada decision last July. The clock starts ticking when an accused is charged.
However, the law allows for exceptions.
Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eldon Simpson said the public interest in seeing the matter go to trial outweighed the “prejudice” to Desharnais.
Simpson also determined that the case against Desharnais is a “particularly complex case.”
Desharnais was arrested in September 2012 after an investigation involving 13 different enforcement entities and more than 70 officers. A so-called Mr. Big operation was part of the investigation.
Desharnais was charged with second-degree murder and interfering with human remains in connection with the death of Talia Meguinis, 27. Her body was discovered on Feb. 22, 2012 in recycling materials collected from a dumpster in Red Deer’s Riverside Industrial Park.
Other delays ahead of the trial were unexpected, such as the temporary suspension of Desharnais’ then-lawyer Arnold Piragoff, which meant a September 2015 trial couldn’t go ahead, said the judge.
Crown prosecutors couldn’t have foreseen that “rare and uncommon event,” he said.
Court also heard that any trial taking longer than five days couldn’t be scheduled for 17 to 18 months because of backlogs in the court system.
Simpson warned that given the Supreme Court’s decision more stay applications are likely to be received in Red Deer because of “institutional delays.”