Security was tight at the Kentville courthouse May 26 for the appearance of two men accused in the death of Harley Lawrence.
Kyle David James Fredericks, 25, and Daniel Wayne Surette, 26, both from the Berwick area, were charged on April 25 with first-degree murder in the death of Lawrence, a 62-year-old homeless man who died in a bus shelter fire on Berwick's Commercial Street Oct. 23, 2013.
The two men, who were both present, were scheduled to enter pleas to the charges, but Surette’s lawyer, Ken Greer, requested the matter be put over to June 24 to allow time for “ongoing disclosure issues,” in the case and to receive “further information which is yet forthcoming from police.”
Read more about the charges they face here.
Judge Alan Tufts granted the request and ordered the parties to return on that date.
During the hearing, Surette, who sat at the front of the courtroom that was packed with spectators, turned around several times to offer silent words of comfort to family members who could be heard sobbing in the back row. Before he was returned to custody, he turned to them and mouthed, “I love you.”
After the hearing was adjourned, Lawrence family spokesperson Ron Lawrence, Harley’s brother, spoke to reporters about the ongoing case.
“It’s going to be a long process,” said Lawrence, “but we are here to get it done.”
He said he understands the need for delays in the case, adding his family “wants to get it done right and proper.”
Lawrence expressed appreciation for the support of his family who are “taking it hard, too.”
The Lawrence family is receiving support from victims services, which is helping them through the process.
“We are all trying to hold it together. It’s a lot to take in.”
During the hearing, Lawrence made eye contact with Fredericks, who was subdued and red-eyed, and said he wondered “what was going through his mind.”
Lawrence added, “He seemed nervous, I think the gravity of this is sinking in.”
Two other high-profile local cases were also in court May 26. Jason Pitts, of Kentville, who faces over 20 charges including child pornography and internet luring, was also on the docket. He has yet to enter a plea since he was charged in 2012.
Read our latest update on Pitts here.
Albert Rex Baird was also due to appear. He faces first degree murder charges in the death of Rhonda Wilson. His case was put over until May 27.
Here's the latest on Baird.
More to come.