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Eaton Centre Shooting Arrest. What Now?

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Christopher Husbands turned himself in this morning around 2:30 a.m. as a suspect in the Toronto Eaton Centre shooting that occurred over the weekend.  He has been charged with one count of first degree murder and six counts of attempted murder.  A case like this can take years before it is resolved in the courts.  So what happens in the interim?  Husbands will make his initial appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice.  As required by the Criminal Code of Canada, he will be remanded into custody.  In other words, he has no opportunity to apply for bail in the Ontario Court of Justice.  If he wishes to apply for bail pending trial, he will have to bring an application in the Superior Court of Justice.  Obtaining bail on a first degree murder charge is rare.  Given the nature of this case and the fact that the police are claiming Husbands was under house arrest at the time of the incident, it is highly doubtful that he will even bother applying for bail.  The Toronto Police have indicated that they still have a lot of investigating to do.  Husband’s lawyer will be seeking disclosure of the case against his client.  This is the evidence that they have in this case.  By law, the Crown is obliged to produce it to Husbands’s lawyer.  Given the nature of this case, that could take some time and it could be an ongoing process.  His lawyer will eventually set the matter down for a preliminary hearing in the Ontario Court of Justice.  A preliminary hearing is much like a discovery hearing.  At the preliminary hearing the Crown must present enough evidence to convince the judge to allow the case to proceed.  For the defence, it is an opportunity to explore the Crown’s case.  The threshold for the Crown to meet at this stage is fairly low.  It’s possible that Husbands may not be committed to stand trial on all the charges he now faces.  Alternatively, he may end up being committed to face additional charges.  Of course, it all depends on the evidence presented.  Following the preliminary hearing, his case will move up to the Superior Court of Justice where he will have his trial before a judge and jury.  The jury selection process can be a lengthy one.  A lot of court time can also be taken up with preliminary motions to decide various legal issues before the trial proceeds.  At the end of the trial, Husbands may be found guilty of some, all, or none of the offences.  First degree murder (one of the charges he now faces) carries an automatic sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for twenty-five years.  Of course, Husbands may decide to plead guilty at some point in which case the matter will not take as long.  Otherwise, it could take several years.

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