June 22nd, 2024

Autopsy report in Tailfeathers case soon to be released to defence

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on November 25, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

After waiting months to receive an autopsy report relating to the death of a Fort Macleod man more than a year ago, the wait may finally be over.

Lawyers for five people charged in the death of Lane Tailfeathers were in Lethbridge provincial court Thursday, where they told the judge they were still waiting for the report and could not proceed with the case until they received it.

The lawyers were told, however, the Crown’s office had recently received the autopsy report and was preparing to provide it to defence.

“It looks like our office received that in the past few days,” Crown Prosecutor James Rouleau confirmed. “I suspect that that ME’s report is actively in the vetting process, and I suspect it will be disclosed to all defence counsel in very short order.”

Lawyers have been waiting for the critical piece of disclosure before setting dates for a pre-preliminary conference and preliminary hearing. It may also impact the accused’s chance for bail.

“It affects possible application for judicial interim release and we’d like to get that as soon as possible,” Calgary lawyer Alain Hepner said.

It’s been more than a year since the body of Lane Tailfeathers was discovered in a remote area of southwest Alberta, and about six months since five people were charged with his death.

Three of the accused, Miranda Mae Turuk, Richard William Lavell and Randy Lee Giroux, are charged with second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body. Michelle Lee Toth and Edward Alexander Goodrich are charged with accessory after the fact to murder and interfering with a dead body.

Tailfeathers was reported missing on June 23, 2021, and a month later his remains were found in a remote area near Crowsnest Pass. RCMP investigators determined the 35-year-old man was killed in Fort Macleod between June 20 and 21 of last year.

Although the accused are jointly charged and could proceed with a preliminary hearing before having their matters heard in Court of King’s Bench, Toth’s lawyer, Andre Ouellette, said he may apply to separate his client from the rest and have his case heard in provincial court.

The accused’s next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9, to allow time for the lawyers to review the autopsy report and determine their next steps.

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