Trial for Hay River murder suspect postponed after he fires legal aid lawyer

Alex Norwegian's photo from facebook

The murder trial for a Hay River man, set for mid-January, has been postponed after he fired his legal aid lawyer.

Levi Cayen, who’s in his early 20s, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Alex Norwegian in Hay River on Boxing Day, 2017.

Cayen appeared in Supreme Court in Yellowknife on Monday and told the judge that he had hired a private lawyer from Edmonton and that he had dismissed his legal aid lawyer, also from Edmonton.

However, the Crown prosecutor in the case contacted the lawyer Cayen claimed was now representing him and told the judge that the lawyer said it was “highly unlikely” he’d be representing Cayen at trial.

Regardless, the judge cancelled the January trial date and sternly told Cayen that it was in his best interest to get a new lawyer for his murder trial.

He is to be back in court on December 2 to tell the judge whether he has hired a private lawyer, accepted another legal aid lawyer or was going to represent himself at trial.

Cayen has elected to be tried by a judge and jury.

A new date for his trial has yet to be set.

Cayen, along with James Thomas, also of Hay River, are both charged with murder in the death of Norwegian, 25.

His body was reportedly found beaten and frozen inside a vehicle on the rarely used Sandy Creek Road on the outskirts of Hay River.

Thomas is to go on trial for first-degree murder in April.

A conviction for first degree murder carries a sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

Two of Cayen’s relatives have already been sentenced for their roles in Norwegian’s death.

Sasha Cayen was sentenced earlier this year to about 3.5 years in custody for manslaughter and robbery.

Court heard she lured Norweigan with a phone call to the remote location knowing that the plan was for her friends to rob him.

Tyler Cayen, who is also a cousin of the victim, was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to accessory to manslaughter after the fact.

All of the suspects were initially charged with murder.

It was during one of those earlier sentencings that the victim’s family expressed to CKLB its anger and frustration after learning RCMP had been contacted by one of the suspects at the time and told of Norwegian’s location.

For reasons that have not yet been explained, Mounties never responded to the call.

One family member told CKLB that Norwegian could be alive today if police had simply done their job.

About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.