by Isobel Harry
GORE BAY—It was standing-room only this past Monday, May 25 as the Ontario Court of Justice in Gore Bay held its criminal hearings in a different courtroom, not the usual large room on the second floor where there was a jury trial going on, but a tiny one with room for about 12 chairs, a minuscule table for the Crown and lawyers, a diminutive dais for Judge Louise Serré, and a miniature prisoner’s box. There was much shuffling between the courtroom and the packed main waiting room outside, with police and those charged with offenses squeezing through the short, narrow aisle.
The day’s business carried on despite the cramped quarters, with hearings into the homicide on May 17, 2015 in Wikwemikong. Three individuals have been charged with second degree murder in the death of Percy (Junior) Simon, 33, after an altercation at a home on Andrew Crescent. Appearing in court were Robert Travis Wemigwans, aged 31, Tammy Trudeau, 43, both of Wikwemikong, and Byron Kagige, 56, of Hamilton.
Mr. Wemigwans, represented by Glenn Sandberg of Sandberg Williams law firm in Sudbury, was escorted into court wearing handcuffs and a neon-orange prison jumpsuit with canvas slip-on shoes. He is tall, slim and wore his waist-length black hair tied back in an elastic band; on the left side of his jaw was a large white bandage. In a brief interchange between Mr. Wemigwans’ lawyer and the judge, it was agreed that the accused would appear in court on June 22, to be spoken to. Byron Kagige, co-accused, will also appear again on the same date. Tammy Trudeau, escorted in handcuffs into the prisoner box, wore dark green sweatpants and a matching sweatshirt, with canvas shoes. A small woman with short hair in a ponytail, she remained in court only briefly to hear that her next appearance is scheduled for June 1. The names of legal counsel for Mr. Kagige and Ms. Trudeau were not known at press time.
The Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) North East Region Crime Unit, under the direction of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) Acting Detective Inspector Gilles Depratto, are continuing their investigation into the homicide. In an interview with the Expositor last week, Acting Detective Inspector Gilles Depratto said that police will not release details of the cause of death, despite a post-mortem examination having been held. He also indicated that, while there have been rumours of a cell-phone video of the altercation in the Wikwemikong home, he is not aware of any such video and added that there is “lots of evidence” against the three accused. Acting Detective Inspector Depratto would not comment on whether any of the three accused were known to police, but said that there are no outstanding charges pending, and no further cause for concern for the public; the OPP will continue to support Wikwemikong Tribal Police in its investigation.
The case of Kimel Corbiere, aged 27 of Mindemoya, accused in the murder of Johnny Panamick, aged 70 of M’Chigeeng, was remanded until June 22, when he will be spoken to. Mr. Corbiere did not appear in court and was represented by his lawyer, James Weppler.
Mr. Panamick was found in his home on Back Street in M’Chigeeng by a neighbour on May 11, 2014, having suffered extensive bodily injuries and was taken to Health Sciences North in Sudbury, where he died on June 13, 2014.
Kimel Corbiere was arrested on July 17, 2014, and charged with the first degree murder of Mr. Panamick. He appeared in court for the first time the day after his arrest, on July 18, and has been in custody since then.
The previous week, on May 21, dates were set for a preliminary hearing into the case of Clinton Gordon Haggart of Little Current, aged 32, charged with seven counts of arson in five suspicious fires that occurred in Little Current in the summer of 2014. Mr. Haggart remains in custody in Sudbury; he made his first court appearance via video on August 14, 2014.
The preliminary hearing of Mr. Haggart, who is represented by Glenn Sandberg, will be held June 15 to 18, 2015, when the Crown will call its evidence against the accused, usually through witnesses who take the stand and testify, providing an opportunity for the defence to evaluate the case against their client.
The charges against Mr. Haggart are: intentionally or recklessly causing damage by fire to personal property owned by Clinton Haggart, 25 Wilson Street East, Northeast Town, Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services, under Section 434.1 of the Criminal Code on June 13, 2014, and intentionally or recklessly causing damage by fire to a dwelling house, property of Ontario Aboriginal Services, 25 Wilson Street East (the home of the Haggart family); intentionally or recklessly causing damage by fire to a dwelling owned by Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services, 35 Blake Street West (the home of Mr. Haggart’s mother-in-law, Margaret Bowerman); intentionally or recklessly causing damage by fire to a garage, property of Lorne Alston, on July 23 at 15 Blake Street West; intentionally or recklessly causing damage by fire to a shed, property of Jamie Still, on August 5, 26 Blake Street West; intentionally or recklessly causing damage by fire to a dwelling/recreation centre, property of Michael Maciuk, on August 17, 21 Campbell Street West (the Island Training Centre); and intentionally or recklessly causing damage by fire to a storage facility, property of Floyd James Renton, on August 17, 23 Campbell Street West (the former Little Current curling rink).