Trial in Windsor cop's killing won't be relocated
WINDSOR, Ont - A man facing a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of a Windsor police constable dropped his request Monday to have the case moved to a court outside this southwestern Ontario city.
The lawyer for 20-year-old Nikkolas Brennan said outside court the motion was withdrawn after reviewing the media coverage of senior Const. John Atkinson's death and the ensuing arrests.
"It was based on the amount of publicity that this matter has been subject to, obviously,'' Dave Jacklin said of the reason behind the initial change of venue request.
"Having reviewed all of the newspaper articles, television broadcasts, radio broadcasts, etc., I formed the opinion that there was really nothing untoward in them that would necessitate a change of venue.''
In May 2006, Atkinson was gunned down while approaching two drug suspects outside a convenience store. Colleagues described the 37-year-old married father of two and 14-year veteran of the force as a dedicated officer.
The slaying shocked Windsor residents - it marked the first time an officer was shot in the line of duty in the more than 120-year history of the city's police force.
Within days, police laid first-degree murder charges against both Brennan and Coty Defausses. Prosecutors eventually dropped the murder charge against Defausses, who was later sentenced to 20 months on drug charges.
He is expected to testify during Brennan's trial.
On Monday, Brennan, his face ridden with acne and sporting a tattoo on his neck, stared blankly at the judge as the case was adjourned to July 11 to set dates for trial and pretrial motions.
There is a publication ban on the proceedings.
Both the Crown and the defence estimated that the jury trial will last roughly four weeks.
Assistant Crown prosecutor Walter Costa said outside court that he wasn't surprised Brennan withdrew the change of venue motion.
"The Crown's position was that this was the appropriate venue and all the safeguards are there for a fair trial,'' said Costa, who added he's confident a jury of "fair-minded'' and "impartial'' jurors can be found in Windsor.
Atkinson's funeral drew some 5,000 police officers from across North America, local dignitaries and Premier Dalton McGuinty.
A neighbourhood community centre was renamed this year in Atkinson's honour.