Robert Barnett will have a trial by Supreme Court Justice and jury in June after debate with Crown counsel and Justice Thomas Melnick on Monday.
It was Barnett’s second appearance in the Cranbrook Law Courts to face charges related to the alleged abduction of a three-year-old boy in November that sparked an Amber Alert. This time Barnett appeared in Supreme Court after opting in December to represent himself, despite suggestions from B.C. provincial court judge Lisa Mrozinski that he seek counsel. Barnett again on Monday reiterated his choice to go ahead without the aid of counsel.
“I’ve considered those options. I think I’d like to set the earliest dates for trial as possible,” Barnett told court.
Barnett is charged with abduction by a parent/guardian and theft over $5,000. The boy was eventually found safe the next day in Whitefish, Montana, after being smuggled over the B.C./Montana border.
The goal of the hearing Monday was to fix a date for trial. Crown counsel Lianna Swanson, who was representing Crown counsel Lynal Doerksen, said they expected the trial to take five days.
Barnett suggested he would like to enter evidence on Monday, but Melnick told him that any evidence would need to be submitted in a trial setting, and the purpose of Monday’s fix a date hearing was to do just that.
Melnick stood the matter down until later in the afternoon to allow Swanson and Barnett to negotiate a date for the trial. When the matter returned to the Supreme Court, a date of April 3 at 2 p.m. was selected for a pre-trial conference. Jury selection will take place on June 18 and a trial will proceed from there.
Barnett asked if he could seek a change of venue to have the matter heard elsewhere so that he may find a quicker date for trial. Melnick said April was a quick turn around for the Cranbrook Law Courts, and a date sooner than April would be impossible to obtain.
“I doubt you’re going to get a jury trial on any faster anywhere in B.C.,” he said.
As the hearing finished up, Barnett brought up concerns that the Crown will not be calling one witness, a social worker, to the trial. Melnick said the issue would have to be brought up at the pre-trial conference.