A Court of Queen’s Bench judge said he hoped the death earlier this week of a man accused of killing a Red Deer doctor provided “some measure of closure” for family, friends, co-workers and the community.
“This would have been a very difficult situation,” said Justice Paul Belzil.
Deng Mabiour, 55, was charged with first-degree murder in last year’s death of Dr. Walter Reynolds at the Village Mall Walk-In Clinic in Red Deer last Aug. 10.
Reynolds, a 45-year-old father of two who was originally from South Africa, was attacked with a weapon while working at the clinic. He later died in hospital.
A four-week jury trial for Mabiour was to begin in Red Deer on Nov. 22.
Crown prosecutor Bina Border told the judge that she had a letter from the medical examiner’s office saying the Nov. 1 death of Mabiour was being investigated.
“I am satisfied that this is sufficient proof of death,” she said.
Border withdrew the murder charge, as well as charges of assault with a weapon and assaulting a police officer.
Belzil also ordered that the hundreds of jury summonses that had gone out to prospective jurors be cancelled.
Border said following the brief court appearance that she did not know the cause of death for Mabiour.
Red Deer lawyer Jason Snider, who was helping Mabiour in his court appearances, said Mabiour had said that he was suffering from colon cancer. Snider confirmed that he died in Calgary’s Foothills Hospital.
At a court appearance in March, the Crown said a letter from a psychiatrist who had examined Mabiour indicated he was to be seen by a doctor at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary for “a serious medical condition.”
Alberta Justice spokesperson Katherine Thompson confirmed in an email that a Calgary Remand Centre inmate had died on Nov. 1 at Foothills.
“The transfer to the hospital on Oct. 27 was not due to any incident at the remand centre,” she said. “Police were not notified by the remand centre as there was no suggestion of foul play relating to the inmate while they were in the remand centre or when they were transferred to the hospital.”
Thompson said that privacy legislation prohibits confirmation that someone is, or has been, an inmate in provincial prisons or remand centres. The release of personal or health information is also prohibited.
The judge thanked Border for the amount of work she had put in on what would have been an “extremely difficult prosecution given that Mr. Mabiour refused to get counsel.”
In early court appearances, Mabiour was often extremely agitated, constantly interrupted the judge and asking why no one was asking him why he killed his family doctor. A series of judges urged Mabiour to get a lawyer, but he flatly refused sometimes alleging corruption in the court system.
In October 2020, a psychiatrist found Mabiour fit to stand trial, despite his behaviour in court.