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Alleged Winnipeg serial killer argues judge should hear his case after pleading not guilty
Featured Image Credit: Jeremy Skibicki/Facebook / CTV News/Facebook

Alleged Winnipeg serial killer argues judge should hear his case after pleading not guilty

Jeremy Skibicki shared his not guilty plea when he appeared in court in Manitoba

The Winnipeg man who pleaded not guilty to killing four Indigenous women is now arguing his case should be heard by a judge rather than a jury.

Jeremy Skibicki appeared in Manitoba for pretrial motions in his case on Monday (6 November), after he was charged last year with murdering the women.

Rebecca Contois, a 24-year-old member of O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation, also known as Crane River, lost her life along with Morgan Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26, who were both members of Long Plain First Nation.

Skibicki has also been linked to the death of a fourth, unidentified woman, who has been given the name Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman, by the community.

During his appearance in court, which took place in front of a number of the deceased women's family members, Skibicki pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder.

The first-degree murder charges mean that Skibicki's trial was automatically set to be heard before a jury, but the suspect has now argued instead that it should be heard only by a judge.

Changing the trial from one in front of a jury would require the consent of the Crown, but Alyssa Munce, a lawyer for Skibicki, has slammed that requirement as arbitrary, and claimed the section of the Criminal Code which includes that requirement is unconstitutional.

Jeremy Skibicki has been accused of killing four women.
Jeremy Skibicki/Facebook

Defense lawyer Leonard Tailleur said outside the court that Skibicki's team is arguing that an accused suspect should have a right to choose what kind of trial they want.

"There's really no basis for it," he said, per CBC. "The accused has a perfect right to re-elect and not be fettered by the Crown, and that's the problem that we have."

Speaking on behalf of the Crown, Charles Murray, of Manitoba Justice's constitutional law branch, argued there is no constitutional right to a trial by judge alone.

Chris Gamby, a defense lawyer who is not involved in Skibicki's case, told CBC that defence lawyers may choose to push for a trial by judge if the case is high profile, like Skibicki's.

Gamby questioned: "Is the jury pool tainted? Have they heard too much about this already such that they don't feel like they can get a fair hearing?

"Has he been convicted in the court of public opinion? That's, I think, probably a pretty good reason why somebody might want not want to have one."

Following the pretrial, Skibicki's trial is scheduled to begin at the end of April.

Topics: World News, Crime, Canada, True crime