Defence applies to strike guilty plea in home invasion

Testimony from a co-accused’s trial could undo a guilty plea from one of three men believed to be involved in a violent home invasion.

Testimony from a co-accused’s trial could undo a guilty plea from one of three men believed to be involved in a violent home invasion.

Jordan Pritchard, 27, of Red Deer had pleaded guilty to a single count of break and enter with the intent to aid and abet an indictable offence on Feb. 14.

But questions have been raised over his involvement in the incident that saw two men allegedly rob a drug dealer at gunpoint and then attempt to kidnap the dealer in an effort to get more drugs from a supplier.

Testimony given at the March trial of David James Kertesz, 28, of Red Deer provided new facts that contradict the plea Pritchard entered previously. Kertesz was found guilty.

Defence counsel Paul Morigeau entered an application to strike Pritchard’s guilty plea Wednesday in Red Deer provincial court. Pritchard’s appearance before Judge Ken Rostad was to have been a sentencing hearing, but the new information changed that.

Pritchard pleaded guilty to break and enter in relation to a May 14, 2013, home invasion. He and two others were charged with going into a man’s house in an effort to rob a drug dealer.

In his plea, Pritchard said he was drawn into the offence by the other two under the guise of going to buy cocaine.

The agreed statement of facts from Feb. 14 aid Pritchard banged on the dealer’s door, demanding to be let in. When the occupant opened the door, two men emerged from the shadows and barged in, one producing a sawed-off shotgun and the other a handgun. Pritchard pleaded guilty to being complicit in the break and enter.

Pritchard had been handed a gun and told to make sure the people in the suite stayed put, while the other two took the dealer away to find his supplier. Pritchard dropped the gun and fled the scene after the two others and the dealer had left.

Three other charges, including extortion, were withdrawn after the guilty plea.

However, testimony from the Kertesz trial indicated that the dealer knew Pritchard and when he saw Pritchard banging at his door, he came down to let him in. Pritchard was invited in and it was only then that Kertesz and another suspect emerged from the shadows, weapons drawn.

Crown Prosecutor Wayne Siliker notified defence counsel last week of the change of the facts.

A new date will be set for Rostad to hear arguments regarding the application to strike Pritchard’s guilty plea.

Kertesz was convicted of break and enter, robbery, using an imitation firearm to commit a robbery, kidnapping, forcible confinement and extortion. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 12 in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.

Garnet Colby McInnes, 23, the third man charged in this incident, is awaiting a series of trials in Red Deer provincial court starting later this year. He has been charged with robberies, dangerous driving, assault, kidnapping, unlawful confinement, extortion and a variety of weapons offences.