Tasha Mack murder trial to begin Monday in death of toddler left at Edmonton church

A trial begins Monday in Edmonton for Tasha-Lee Mack, who faces second-degree murder and other charges in the death of her former boyfriend Joey Crier‘s 19-month-old son.

Police have said Anthony Joseph Raine, who was 19 months old, was covered in bruises and he was killed by a blow to the head. His body was found outside a north Edmonton church in April 2017.

EXCLUSIVE: Family of accused killer speaks out; doesn’t know if toddler was alive while at their house

Mack and Crier’s joint trial was to start in Edmonton last week, but was delayed after Crier’s lawyer, Amanda Hart-Dowhun, asked to be removed from the case.

“There has been a fundamental breakdown of the lawyer-client relationship,” she told Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Rob Graesser.

Crier, who had been out on bail since last fall and was ordered to live with his mother on the Pigeon Lake reserve, failed to show up in court last Monday for jury selection. He was arrested on Tuesday and sat in the prisoner’s box for Wednesday’s proceedings.

“I’m sorry the relationship has broken down,” responded Graesser. “I certainly will not force you to stay on.”

Crown prosecutor Mark van Manen said he still preferred to have one trial, because there are between 40 and 45 witnesses to testify.

But the lawyers weren’t able to agree on a date that could start within 30 months of the charges being laid. That timeline for criminal cases was established by the Supreme Court in what’s known as the Jordan decision, which set deadlines of 18 months for provincial court trials and 30 months in superior court.

Mack’s lawyer, Ajay Juneja, declined to waive his client’s rights under the decision, so Mack’s trial is to begin Monday.

Joey Crier and Tasha-Lee Mack.

Crier, who waived his Jordan rights, will go to trial at a later date while he finds a new lawyer. He will stay in custody because his bail was revoked for missing court.

He told court his ride from Maskwacis, a first nation’s community about 70 kilometres south of Edmonton, failed to show up and he was trying to find another way into the city.

“I was not trying to evade or run.”

Because he missed court, the judge also ruled Crier lost the right to be tried by a jury. He is to return to court June 14 to determine next steps.

— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News

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