ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
St. John’s lawyer Erin Breen once represented Kurt Churchill in a court process that saw him charged with serious offences for three years before the case was dismissed, but on Tuesday she withdrew as his lawyer on an unrelated matter.
Churchill, 43, was set to go to trial in provincial court on a charge of uttering threats against a police officer, which he’s alleged to have done in March of last year. When the case was called before Judge Mike Madden, Breen indicated she was withdrawing as counsel for Churchill, who will now be represented by Corner Brook-based lawyer Robby Ash. She didn’t give a reason.
Churchill did not attend court Tuesday and Ash attended by video, telling the judge he needed time to review the file before the trial begins.
The matter is scheduled to start on Sept. 14.
Court documents related to Churchill’s threats charge reveal he was released on a number of conditions, including that he stay away from the Martini Bar on George Street, that he not possess firearms or prohibited weapons, and that he let police know if his address changed from 40 Craigmillar Ave. in St. John’s.
That’s the address of the house outside of which 47-year-old Jamie Cody was fatally shot around 4 a.m. on July 5, in what police have determined was a homicide.
RNC officers responded to a report of shots fired in the neighbourhood and arrived within minutes to find Cody’s body on the street and his red Jeep Cherokee, the driver’s door open, outside 40 Craigmillar Ave. Police secured the perimeter of the scene as well as the home, and determined no one was inside.
RNC Supt. Tom Warren told reporters that investigators have interviewed a large number of people and have identified suspects, but as of a week ago had not made any arrests. Warren said investigators don’t believe the homicide was a random act and are confident, based on information they’ve uncovered and “precautionary measures” they’ve put in place, that the public is not at risk.
“The parties involved were believed to be known to each other,” Warren said.
He declined to elaborate.
“I’m confident that there’s no public safety concern at this point in time.”
Police are appealing to the public for CCTV or dashcam footage from the Craigmillar Avenue area around the time of the shooting and are looking for other vehicles that may have been involved. Investigators would also like to speak with anyone who had contact with Cody in the days leading up to his death.
Churchill and Cody, who was also once represented by Erin Breen, had been charged in connection with unrelated significant drug trafficking cases, but the courts threw out both their charges due to unconstitutional delays in bringing them to trial.
Churchill had been charged in the spring of 2014 as part of Operation Battalion, a drug-trafficking investigation involving police in different provinces that saw police seize about $350,000, cocaine, a loaded handgun and other weapons, and a pickup. Churchill’s charges — and those of a co-accused man — were dismissed in 2017 after defence lawyers successfully argued a Jordan application, which sets a 30-month time limit for a matter to be heard in court unless there are unforeseen and reasonable reasons for a delay.
Cody was one of several people charged in 2010 during Operation Razorback, an investigation by police here and in B.C. into drug trafficking and money laundering. His charges were thrown out five years later.