Prelim for accused Hay River murderer to proceed next month

Yellowknife Courthouse

The preliminary hearing for a Hay River man charged with first degree murder will go ahead next month after all.

The hearing for 27-year-old James Thomas appeared to be in limbo last month when the NWT Legal Aid Commission was unable to secure a lawyer for him.

Thomas was represented by local legal aid lawyer Leslie Moore as he appeared by video from the North Slave Correctional Complex (NSCC) Tuesday.

Thomas is 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 2017.

Thomas’ original legal aid lawyer left Yellowknife last year and the only lawyer legal aid had initially been able to find to represent him was based in Ontario.

That lawyer had a trial in Ottawa in February, and wasn’t able to represent Thomas at the hearing in Yellowknife.

Preliminary hearings are held to determine whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.

The hearing, scheduled to last two weeks, will begin on February 25th.

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.

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