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Large jury pool expected in Denecho King murder case
Justice department suggests hundreds could be summoned for April 2018 trial

John McFadden
Northern News Services
Friday, June 23, 2017

The potentially huge jury pool was one of the issues discussed at a court appearance earlier this month for Denecho King, accused in a grisly murder at an apartment complex in December 2014.

The exact number of juror summonses issued won't be known until it is decided which judge will preside over the case, according to Jeff Round, director of court services for the Department of Justice.

"The size of the jury panel will be determined in due course as part of trial preparation over the next several months," Round stated by e-mail.

"The size of jury panels can differ depending on the nature of the trial and other factors such as anticipated duration and location. A large panel is anticipated for the King trial and selection will be held at the Yellowknife Multiplex."

Round pointed out that for the 2016 murder trial of Keenan McNeely, convicted of killing Charlotte Lafferty in Fort Good Hope, 800 summonses were issued to potential jurors in Yellowknife, while in the 2009, 1,300 summonses were sent out ahead of the murder trial for Emrah Bulatci, who shot and killed Hay River RCMP Const. Christopher Worden in 2007.

King, 24, remains in custody at the North Slave Correctional Centre. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail last December after pleading guilty to escaping from the facility the previous summer. King touched off a four-day, citywide manhunt on Aug. 10, 2016 after climbing onto the correctional centre's roof and jumping to the ground. He was arrested at his mother's Sissons Court home on Aug. 13.

King is charged with second degree murder in the death of John Wifladt, 39, who was found badly injured in a Sunridge Place apartment unit in 2014. Wifladt later died at Stanton Territorial Hospital. King is also charged with the attempted murder of another man who lived in the unit and was injured in the same attack. The man is expected to be a key witness at trial.

King has elected to be tried by judge and jury in NWT Supreme Court. A preliminary hearing last fall determined there was enough evidence to send the case to trial.

King appeared in court Monday wearing a blue dress shirt, tucked into grey sweatpants and leg shackles. From the prisoner's box, where he was guarded by two RCMP officers, King waved to >prisoner advocate Lydia Bardak who waved back.

He was allowed to wear shoes in the courtroom, a contentious issues for some defence lawyers who recently told a judge that it is degrading to be forced to appear in court in sock feet.

The pre-trial conference in front of judge Karan Shaner saw procedural discussions between King's lawyer Jay Bran and Alex Godfrey, the Crown prosecutor in the case. Those discussions are covered by a publication ban imposed by Shaner.

The trial, which is expected to last six weeks, is scheduled to begin on April 9, 2018 with jury selection.

A voir dire in the murder case is scheduled for Oct. 23. It is essentially a trial within a trial at which time lawyers will discuss the admissibility of evidence. A judge is expected to be assigned to the case by then, according to Godfrey.

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