Jury trial cancelled at last minute, one accused to go before judge

Prince Albert Court of Queen's Bench. Herald File Photo.

About 140 prospective jurors spent Monday morning in Prince Albert’s Court of Queen’s Bench, waiting to see if they’d serve for a sexual assault trial.

All of them were sent home.

Two of the accused, Kenneth Crowe and Charles Morin, entered guilty pleas. The third, Carlos Moosomin decided he didn’t want a jury. He chose to face trial before a judge alone on Tuesday.

The trial was initially scheduled to last three weeks. The local sheriff, Ann Courtney, said it takes a lot of effort to get a jury together.

“It is difficult to get people to sit on a jury, and it is their civic duty,” she said. “They can be charged summarily if they don’t show up.”

To get 140 people in that courtroom, the court had to summon about 800 residents. Some of them got exemptions, mostly because they work in the jails or on farms.

“P.A. is in a situation where we also have three jails, and it is harvest time, the Jury Act allows us to exempt them,” she said.

Courtney said her office has been “directed to investigate” the ones who didn’t show up. They might be subject to a fine of $1,000.

Crowe and Morin will face sentencing on October 30. The sexual assault charge stems from a 2008 offence against a single victim, the sheriff confirmed. There is also a charge of breaking and entering.