By Lethbridge Herald on May 1, 2020.
A 40-year-old Lethbridge man who is set to stand trial in less than three months on several criminal charges, including kidnapping and robbery, has hired a new lawyer.
Cory Ray Williams’ former lawyer, Shaun Leochko of Calgary, was allowed to withdraw Thursday during a hearing in Lethbridge provincial court after Leochko explained there had been a breakdown in the solicitor/client relationship.
While it’s not yet known whether the change of counsel will delay the trial while the new lawyer gets up to speed, Crown Prosecutor Ian Elford asked that it be adjourned because a number of “essential” police witnesses will not be available July 20-24. Elford also suggested the new counsel may not have enough time to prepare for the five-day trial.
Although Judge Gregory Maxwell allowed the change in lawyers, he didn’t grant an adjournment of the trial, at least not yet. Instead, the matter was adjourned to Monday when the new lawyer would be able to speak to the issue.
Williams, who appeared in court by closed-circuit TV from the Lethbridge Correctional Centre, pleaded not guilty Feb. 6 to charges of kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, assault with a weapon, flight from police, dangerous driving, uttering threats, robbery, attempted robbery and housebreaking.
Police reported that on Oct. 20 a 41-year-old man told police he and an acquaintance were arguing when the other man attacked him with a machete, then fled from the home before police arrived.
At about 11:50 p.m. the same evening, a 55-year-old man in a vehicle parked in the 400 block of Mayor Magrath Drive North was carjacked and kidnapped, and forced to drive to several locations in the city with a machete to his throat. The suspect forced the victim to withdraw money from an ATM then demanded he be driven toward the Blood Reserve.
The victim was eventually let out of the vehicle and left on the side of the road where a passerby picked him up, and while he was calling police the suspect returned to the area in the stolen vehicle and began to pursue the Good Samaritan’s vehicle.
The RCMP and Blood Tribe police chased the suspect to Fort Macleod where the vehicle was eventually abandoned. A few hours later the RCMP in Fort Macleod responded to a break-in, during which a van was stolen. Police found the vehicle in Lethbridge the following day.
Just after 6 p.m. the following day, police responded to a report of a disturbance in the 2900 block of 2 Avenue South where a man was wielding multiple weapons. While police were en route, additional calls came in reporting a carjacking in the 200 block of 27 Street South by a man matching the description of the subject involved in the disturbance.
In that incident, a 61-year-old man was sitting in a parked vehicle when another man got into the passenger seat, brandished a small sword, threatened the man and told him to drive. The victim was able to disarm the subject and a bystander approached the vehicle window and began yelling. The subject pulled out a second weapon, jumped out of the vehicle and fled on foot. The bystander chased him but the subject was able to find a bicycle and fled across the highway.
At about 7:30 a.m. Oct. 23, police responded to a report of a female screaming outside a residence in the 2300 block of 5 Avenue North. The woman told police she had accompanied a family member to the bus stop and, while walking back, a man grabbed her, threw her to the ground and demanded she turn over her cellphone. He ran away after the scuffle.
The description of the subject was the same as in the previous incidents, and later that morning he was located at a northside home and arrested without incident.
Police searched the suspect’s residence and recovered evidence of the offences, including the keys to the van that was stolen in Fort Macleod.
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