Murder trial delayed again

A man accused of first-degree murder will have to wait until Tuesday to find out when he may get his trial.

A man accused of first-degree murder will have to wait until Tuesday to find out when he may get his trial.

An expected two-week Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench trial for Brent William Crouse, of Calgary, was thrown into disarray before it started this week after Crouse’s lawyer, Gloria Froese, fell seriously ill late last week and had to be hospitalized.

On Wednesday, Red Deer lawyer Will Willms told Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Kirk Sisson that Froese wanted to be removed from the case on the grounds of ill health.

The case was adjourned for two days to sort out the next step.

Calgary lawyer Jim Yusep said on Friday that Froese experienced severe medical difficulties on Feb. 3 and her condition worsened a day later.

She was eventually taken by ambulance to a Calgary hospital and treated in the cardiac unit.

She was released on Thursday but her condition makes it “impossible” for her to continue with the trial, said Yusep.

Another Calgary lawyer, Norm Kelly, has agreed to step in, he said.

Crouse, 47, was charged in connection with the April 16, 2008, stabbing and beating death of Sheldon Mark Hiller, 46.

His body was found in a ditch near Raven, about 65 km west of Red Deer, on Hwy 54. Crouse is also charged with accessory to murder after the fact and extortion.

Sisson agreed to remove Froese from the case and adjourned the case until Tuesday to confirm that Kelly is willing to take on the trial and how soon he can proceed.

Given the court schedule, which is set for six months at a time, a trial rescheduled for later in the year likely could not happen before September, Sisson said.

Crouse appeared to sigh deeply and dropped his head at that news.

Later, Crouse was asked by Sisson for his views on the unexpected turn of events.

“Of course, this is all a shock to me,” Crouse said, adding he had spoken to Kelly and was warned that a rescheduled trial might not take place for nine to 16 months.

“I might have a resolution to this matter,” he said. “I cannot sit in this remand for another 16 months.”

A brief adjournment was called so Crouse could speak with Yusep.

When court resumed, Yusep said Crouse was not happy with the situation but agreed to speak with Kelly next week.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com