Canada Valentine's Day massacre suspects headed for trial

Thu Jul 23, 2015 1:12pm EDT
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By Richard Woodbury

HALIFAX (Reuters) - The case of a Canadian man and American woman accused of plotting a shopping mall massacre in the Atlantic Canadian city of Halifax will proceed to trial, a court confirmed on Thursday, though the trial may not start until 2016.

The 21-year-old man and 23-year-old woman, who are believed to have met online, are accused of planning a Columbine-like mass murder and suicide. They were arrested at the Halifax airport in February, after the woman traveled from Illinois, allegedly to help carry out the plot.

Randall Shepherd, a Canadian citizen, and Lindsay Souvannarath, a U.S. citizen, appeared in court on Thursday for the final day of a three-day preliminary hearing.

A publication ban was imposed by the judge, barring media from reporting details of the case discussed by witnesses or lawyers in the courtroom.

Shepherd and Souvannarath sat on a bench on one side of the courtroom, separated and flanked by sheriff's deputies. Shepherd was engaged in the proceedings, listening intently, while Souvannarath sat hunched over, frequently yawning and often staring straight ahead.

The two will next appear in court on Aug. 6 to set a pre-trial conference, but government attorney Mark Heerema, one of two lawyers prosecuting the case, said the trial is not expected to begin until 2016.

Heerema said the trial would likely last for several weeks, citing the large amount of disclosure involved and "hundreds of thousands of pages" of evidence.

Shepherd and Souvannarath will remain in jail pending the trail. Heerema said the government would oppose any bail application.   Continued...

Randall Steven Shepherd leaves court in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, March 6, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Pittman