By Shurtz, Delon on February 19, 2020.
A jury chosen Tuesday to hear a child luring case in Lethbridge isn’t expected to begin hearing evidence until Thursday.
Although it took barely an hour for the jury to be selected in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s bench, jurors were dismissed until 2 p.m. Thursday, when Crown Prosecutor Carolyn Ayres is scheduled to call the first of about a dozen witnesses for the Crown’s case, including a forensics expert and the young complainant.
Gary James Lippa of Lethbridge is accused of luring and assaulting the 13-year-old girl in 2017. Lippa, 39, is charged with child luring, sexual assault, sexual interference, making child pornography, accessing child pornography and possessing child pornography.
ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit initially reported that a man deceptively enticed a girl away from her caregivers. The man was arrested at his Lethbridge home on Feb. 22, 2018, after police received information that he was engaged in sexualized online chats with an underage girl. Police alleged nude photos were exchanged, and a number of computers and electronic devices were seized from the home.
Lippa was set to represent himself during trial after he had been denied Legal Aid and the court rejected a Rowbotham application, which would have granted him court-ordered counsel. It wasn’t until last December that Lethbridge lawyer Wade Hlady agreed to take the case, barely two months before trial.
The accused must remain in custody during his trial after a provincial court judge refused to grant him bail last week. Lippa had been out on bail until recently, when he was arrested and charged with theft under $5,000 and two counts of failing to comply with conditions of his release.
During a bail hearing Wednesday, Hlady said it would be easier to meet with his client and prepare for the trial if he was not in custody, but Judge Timothy Hironaka said it would be in the public’s interest to keep him in.
A voir dire – a trial within a trial at which the jury is not present- began Tuesday afternoon to determine the admissability of evidence before the trial proper begins Thursday.
Ayres expects to conclude her case in a week, and the trial is scheduled to run until the end of the month.
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