Family and supporters of five-year-old Quinn Butt gasped, then broke down in tears in the gallery at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Monday morning, as they learned it could be another year before her father goes to trial for her murder.
The first-degree murder trial for Trent Butt has been set for March 4, 2019, having been postponed last week at the last minute.
Quinn’s mother, Andrea Gosse, kept her eyes coldly on Butt — who appeared to be smirking —as he was escorted into the courtroom by sheriff’s officers. Once court was adjourned and Butt was brought back to the lockup, an emotional Gosse and other supporters wept and hugged.
Butt, 39, is charged with murder and arson in the death of Quinn, whose body was removed from Butt’s burning Carbonear home on April 24, 2016. Butt and Gosse were estranged at the time.
No choice but to delay Trent Butt’s murder trial: judge
Three days before his trial was set to begin last week, Butt indicated to the court he had fired his lawyers, Mike King and Bob Simmonds, and wanted defense lawyers Bob Buckingham and Robert Hoskins instead.
Buckingham told the court Butt had applied to Legal Aid for a certificate in order to pay for Buckingham and Hoskins, but was denied due to recent changes in the Legal Aid Act.
For the past 10 years, Legal Aid clients facing serious charges like murder had the option of being represented by private lawyers like King, Simmonds, Buckingham and Hoskins, but the legislation was changed last month. That means Butt no longer has a choice of lawyer.
In court Monday, Butt was represented by Legal Aid lawyer Derek Hogan, though Buckingham and Hoskins watched from the gallery. It’s not yet known whether Buckingham will challenge the new legislation in court.
Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland indicated he and fellow prosecutor Jennifer Lundrigan were ready to proceed with the trial, but Hogan told the judge he wouldn’t be ready or available to proceed with the four-week proceedings until next spring.