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Accused elects judge-only trial in Yellowknife murder case

Expected to plea not guilty to the murder of Breanna Menacho

Devon Larabie, accused of second-degree murder, has elected to forego a jury trial, it was confirmed in court on Jan 26.

Dressed in prison greens, Larabie made a brief appearance in NWT Supreme Court via video link from North Slave Correctional Complex, where he is being held in custody in relation to the 2020 death of Breanna Menacho. The 22-year-old was found dead in a Yellowknife apartment on May 6, 2020.

In the interest of scheduling enough time for a trial, Chief Justice Louise Charbonneau offered Larabie the opportunity to enter a plea, which he declined.

“I want to talk to my lawyer,” he said, referring his counsel, Scott Cowan, who joined the court session via telephone.

Larabie, 29, is scheduled to enter a formal plea at a later date, and Cowan said a not-guilty plea is likely. A trial by a judge alone could take three weeks; a jury trial would have taken up to seven weeks.

The legal proceedings have been delayed several times due Covid-19 restrictions. Crown prosecutor Blair McPherson, who also attended the hearing via telephone, expressed his concern related to the delays in November 2021, citing the Jordan framework, a tool that assesses the reasonable length of time between charge and trial.

SEE: Government of Canada - Section 11(b) - Trial within a reasonable time

The Jordan framework stipulates 30 months as the limit in Supreme Court; Larabie was charged more than 20 months ago. His trial is expected to start in the fall 2022.

Larabie’s co-accused, Jordan Nande and Lisa Brule, pleaded guilty in December 2020 to being accessories after the fact to the murder of Menacho and each received a 10-month custodial sentence.

SEE: Details from accessory to murder case emerge after publication ban lifted