Ottawa Citizen
Monday 9 February 1998

Eight murder trials set to begin

Caseload flows from record 23 homicides in 1995

Peter Hum
The Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa's prosecutors are preparing themselves for a mean season of murder trials.

The tally board marked "Homicide -- Case Tracking" in the Ottawa Crown attorney's office shows the score: Of the 18 names on the board, eight are proceeding to trial by June. The Ottawa courthouse this spring will see as many as four murder trials proceeding simultaneously.

"They've accumulated," Ottawa Crown attorney Andrejs Berzins said last week. "We're feeling the consequences in court now of that one big year we had in murder cases."

In 1995, the region had a record 23 homicides, roughly double the tally in 1996 and 1997.

The glut has meant that most of Ottawa's full-time prosecutors have been assigned murder cases this year. On some cases, such as the ongoing Brett Morgan trial, two prosecutors are teamed together. Because of the preparation time required and the length of murder trials, Mr. Berzins has had to hire several part-time assistant Crown attorneys to handle other cases.

"It really is sending up a budget a great deal," Mr. Berzins said. "Financially it's an issue for us."

Mr. Berzins' office usually spends $100,000 on part-time prosecutors to augment his staff. Primarily because of the murder cases, that expenditure this year has doubled, he said.

"We have no choice. We want to do the best possible job that we can on all these cases," he said.

Mr. Berzins said that he will be happy when the murder trials are over and he can return to his regular staffing.

In the interim, the courts will deal with:

The murder trial of Keith Edwards, Mark Williams and John Richardson

Of the 23 homicides that took place in 1995, the killing of Vanier teenager Sylvain Leduc was arguably the most horrific.

Mr. Leduc, 17, was asphyxiated and beaten to death in an apartment at 33 Banner Rd. in Nepean on Oct. 26, 1995.

Keith Edwards, Mark Williams and John Richardson are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Mr. Leduc.

Justice Douglas Rutherford last week began hearing motions on the case. It will be several weeks before a jury is chosen to hear the evidence.

The Lilian Getkate murder trial

The shooting death of Ottawa psychologist Marinus Getkate left his friends and colleagues searching for a motive in the killing.

Mr. Getkate, 37, known as Maury, was found slain in a bedroom when police arrived at his home on Falaise Road near Prince of Wales Drive on Dec. 8, 1995.

He'd been shot in the head and upper back, likely as he lay in bed, police said. There was no sign of a struggle. Police seized a rifle and ammunition at the home.

At the time of his death Mr. Getkate was working for the RCMP, trying to devise tests to identify which Mounties should be promoted within the force.

Mr. Getkate's wife, Lilian, then 35, was charged with first-degree murder.

Friends had described the couple as kind people devoted to their children. Before Mr. Getkate was killed, he had planned to take a day off to prepare for Christmas. Shot on a Friday, he had planned to cut a Christmas tree that weekend.

In November 1996, the local Brownie leader and mother of Mr. Getkate's two children was committed to stand trial.

Her trial is to begin March 30.

The Robert Campbell murder trial

Woodlawn resident Sandra Campbell died on Christmas Eve 1993, of what was believed to have been a heart attack.

It was only after six months that Ontario Provincial Police asserted that the 47-year-old mother of two had been killed.

They charged Mrs. Campbell's husband of 29 years, Robert, with first-degree murder. The charge followed forensic tests that allegedly discovered high levels of the heart drug digitoxin in the woman's body.

Mr. Campbell, a scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, was released on bail shortly after his arrest.

His trial is to begin April 6.

The Steven Gilling murder trial

A jury in March 1996 convicted Steven Gilling, then 27, of second-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years for allegedly killing a man he said tried to rape him.

But Mr. Gilling is to be tried again, after the Ontario Court of Appeal last year granted him a new trial. The province is to pay Mr. Gilling's legal expenses as he maintains his innocence again in connection with the slashing death of his roommate, Guy Robert.

Justice Michael Moldaver ordered a new trial because the trial judge, Justice Charles Doyle, made a number of errors at the conclusion of the original trial.

Mr. Robert, 55, was found naked, sprawled on his bed in his Ottawa apartment on March 23, 1995. Mr. Gilling testified he didn't slash Mr. Robert's throat. He added that others had an opportunity to kill Mr. Robert.

Mr. Gilling's new trial is to begin April 6.

The Donald Lauzon murder trial

Just as 23-month-old Samantha Boan was learning to speak her first words, she was killed.

The little girl died of severe head injuries in August 1995, and police said she may have been struck with a blunt object. Her mother Jennifer, 20 at the time, had left her Baseline Road apartment for a few minutes to go to a convenience store. When Ms. Boan returned, the child was seriously injured. She called 911, but her daughter could not be saved.

Donald Lauzon, Ms. Boan's then 19-year-old live-in boyfriend, was charged with first-degree murder.

Mr. Lauzon's trial is to begin May 4.

The murder trial of Colette Nelson and J.P. Poitras

Clifford James Blake's sordid death was his final indignity. The Constance Bay man had had a wretched childhood, ruined by the sexual abuse he suffered at the notorious St. Joseph's Training School for Boys in Alfred. He sometimes drank heavily, but worked hard at Energy, Mines and Resources before being laid off in the early 1990s. He had three children with his first wife, Doris.

On Jan. 2, 1996, a snow plow operator discovered human remains along Stonecrest Road in West Carleton. Provincial police used fingerprints from a dismembered hand to identify the victim as Mr. Blake, 55.

Mr. Blake's common-law wife, Colette Nelson, 51, and Jean-Paul Poitras, 46, were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. The trial for the two accused is to begin May 4.

The Dimitre Dimitrov murder trial

At the funeral of Hristo Veltchev, Father Tim Flaherty described the slain man as "a good, kind man who lived the gospel of love."

Mr. Veltchev, 37, had emigrated from Bulgaria several years ago and later became a Canadian citizen.

His body was found Feb. 22, 1996, in the trunk of his car, parked outside a supermarket on Bank Street at Alta Vista Drive. An autopsy revealed he died from blows to his head that fractured his skull.

Mr. Veltchev, who was married, worked at Ottawa Fibre on Belgreen Drive. His mother could not leave Bulgaria to attend his funeral.

Dimitre Dimitrov, 40, was committed last May to stand trial for the second-degree murder of Mr. Veltchev, who was his landlord. His trial is to begin June 1.

The murder trial of Frederick Roukema and Ian Lambert

Robert Deraiche turned 25 on the day he died.

The homeless young man, who had grown up on an aboriginal reserve near Toronto, died at the Ottawa General Hospital on Sept. 28, 1996, a week after he had been beaten and set on fire in a Centretown alley. He suffered third-degree burns to half of his body and suffered swelling in his brain. Police contend two other street people set upon Mr. Deraiche late on a Friday night, behind Hartman's Your Independent Grocer on Bank Street near Somerset.

Ottawa-Carleton police charged Ian Lambert, then 30, and Frederick Roukema, then 26, with first-degree murder. Their trial is to begin June 1.