CALGARY — An Alberta judge has agreed to delay the trial of a couple accused of causing their toddler’s death after both parents agreed to waive their right to a speedy trial.
Jeromie and Jennifer Clark are charged with criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessaries of life to their 14-month-old son John.
Police began investigating when the boy died after being brought to hospital by his parents on Nov. 28, 2013.
The medical examiner found that John died from a staph infection complicated by malnutrition.
A trial for the Clarks was to be begin June 5, but the mother’s new lawyer asked for a delay.
“There are certain expert witnesses that I have recognized that I will require,” lawyer Dale Fedorchuk told court. “I do not have time between now and … June to actually retain and instruct those expert witnesses and it would be a fairly severe detriment to my client if I could not do so.”
Fedorchuk said his client was willing to waive her charter right to a trial within a reasonable time. A Supreme Court ruling last year set out that the wait in superior courts should be no more than 30 months.
Crown prosecutor Shane Parker agreed to the 17-month adjournment.
“It is the type of case that does cry out for defence evidence from an expert medical standpoint, so in balancing all the interests … the Crown is not opposed to the adjournment,” he said.
When the request for a delay was made last month, the Crown suggested the court should have some “deep suspicions” that Jennifer Clark, who had fired her earlier lawyer, was trying to help her husband with the delay. He could then argue the charges against him be dismissed because he was being denied a timely trial.
Jeromie Clark, who last month had refused to waive his charter rights, changed his mind Friday.
“I would like counsel to have the time they need and I do waive my rights to a speedy trial. I do waive that,” he told the court.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Glen Poelman set Oct. 1, 2018, as the opening day for a new three-week trial.
“We have both accused waiving the … rights that would be caused by this adjournment,” the judge said. “The Crown has properly and fairly acknowledged as well that this is a case in which defence expert evidence will be required.
“Accordingly, I grant the adjournment.”
As part of their bail conditions, the Clarks are not allowed to have contact with their two other sons.
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press