A preliminary hearing for a Hay River man charged with first degree murder is in limbo as the NWT Legal Aid Commission has been unable to secure a lawyer for him.
27-year-old James Thomas appeared in a Yellowknife courtroom Tuesday, charged with the death of Alex Norwegian almost a year ago
His body was reportedly found in a vehicle on the Hay River reserve between Christmas and New Year’s of last year.
Thomas’ original legal aid lawyer has left Yellowknife and the only lawyer legal aid has been able to find to represent him is from Ontario.
That lawyer has a trial in Ottawa in February, the same time the preliminary hearing is to be held for Thomas.
Preliminary hearings are held to determine whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.
The Crown prosecutor wants the prelim to go ahead as scheduled but admits Thomas should have a lawyer for that because of the seriousness of the charge.
Two other people who were originally charged with murder in Norwegian’s death have already pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
32-year-old Tyler Cayen pleaded guilty to accessory to murder while 25-year-old Sasha Cayen has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
They have both yet to be sentenced.
Like Thomas, 20-year-old Levi Cayen is charged with first degree murder in connection with Norwegian’s death.
A trial date for him has yet to be set.
A cause of death has never been officially released.