Young Joedin Leger was shot outside this brick house on Logan Street in Moncton on April 25, 2022. Police officers are seen here leading the investigation, a few hours after the murder.
Five of the six young men charged with killing Joedin Leger appeared in Moncton Provincial Court on Monday. They will all remain in custody pending their next court appearance, scheduled for August 25.
Joedin Leger, 18, was shot and killed last April in a residential area of Moncton. Over the next few weeks, six young men were arrested and charged with first degree murder.
Five of them appeared by telephone one after the other, late Monday morning. They are Nicholas McAvoy, Riley Phillips, Hunter England, Jerek England and Hayden LeBlanc. They are co-accused and will stand trial together, if tried.
The sixth accused, an 18-year-old man who cannot be named because he was a minor at the time of the facts alleged, is charged separately in Youth Court. He did not appear on Monday.
Judge Brigitte Volpé provided an update on the cases of the five co-defendants, which all have their particularities.
Late Monday morning, Judge Volpé first dealt with the case of Riley Phillips, 18. After a psychiatric evaluation at the Restigouche Hospital Center in Campbellton, he was deemed fit to stand trial.
His lawyer, Tim Dubé, had also requested an evaluation of his mental state at the time of the alleged events, which has not yet been carried out for lack of time. He withdrew this request on Monday before Judge Volpé.
The Crown prosecutor disagreed with this decision. She was keen to say that this assessment would be helpful and it would be best if it was done as soon as possible.
Jerek England, 23, then appeared on the phone at from Saint-Jean, where he is being held. His lawyer, James McConnell – who was also in Saint-Jean – explained to the judge that he has been representing his client for a short time and that the evidence has not yet been disclosed to him.
Jerek England's younger brother Hunter England then appeared. He was represented by Gilles Lemieux, who attended the hearing in person.
Lawyer Gilles Lemieux
The latter said he had received the evidence and indicated that his client wanted the steps to follow. Gilles Lemieux has indicated that his client intends to plead not guilty.
The penultimate co-accused was 24-year-old Nicholas McAvoy. He was not properly represented, but attorney Wanda Severns intervened on his behalf as a friend of the court. She explained that Nicholas McAvoy is in the process of retaining her services.
Hayden LeBlanc, 18, was the last to appear before Judge Brigitte Volpé. He said he still hasn't retained a lawyer. He explained that he has applied for legal aid, but it has not yet paid off.
The judge asked Hayden LeBlanc to dismiss a applied for legal aid and suggested that he return to Provincial Court quickly to confirm that he had retained the services of a lawyer.
When she suggested that the hearing in question be held on Friday, Hayden LeBlanc – who was on the phone – surprised the judge with a joke.
I can't do that Friday, I have to go to the beach, he said. The comment made a few people in the courtroom laugh.
Six people charged with the same first degree murder, that's a situation you don't see every day in New Brunswick. Lawyer Gilles Lemieux recognizes that the case is out of the ordinary.
It happens…it happens. This is not the norm. It's not often you have five co-defendants charged with the same murder. We have to agree that normally there is only one person who pulls the trigger, he said at the microphone of Radio-Canada Acadie as he left the courthouse.
During a possible trial, the participation of five lawyers could bring its share of challenges, he added.
It is certain that there are five lawyers who will question the same witnesses. There will be repetition and duplication.
Gilles Lemieux also notes that it is quite possible that one or more co-accused ask that their case be dealt with separately by the Provincial Court.
Depending on what is in the files, the defenses are different. There are several things that can cause one defendant or the other to request that his trial be separated, he said.
He did not want to whether he will ask that his client, Hunter England, be tried separately from the other four co-defendants.
It is too early to answer that question. We just got the disclosure, I got the disclosure Friday afternoon at four o'clock. This is a matter to be debated at another time.
The five co-defendants will be back in Provincial Court on August 25. Until then, they remain in custody. They are forbidden to come into contact with each other.