Several local homicide trials have been delayed due to pandemic

Homicide trials delayed

It will be many months before two Central Okanagan homicides cases make it to trial, due to COVID-19 delays.

Kevin Costin is accused of the second-degree murder of his wife, 37-year-old Hazel Budiongan, in their West Kelowna home in November 2015, before allegedly setting their home on fire while her body was still inside.

While Costin was initially scheduled to begin his jury trial in April of this year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the delay of the trial. The trial was initially pushed back to May 19 of this year, but it's now been delayed a full year.

The 12-week jury trial is now scheduled to begin on May 3, 2021. Costin was granted bail last December, and he's remained under house arrest since then, monitored by an electronic bracelet.

His case is in Kelowna court this week for a voir dire – a trial within a trial – to determine the admissibility of evidence for next year's trial.

Meanwhile, two of the men accused of killing 23-year Esa Carriere on the evening of Canada Day 2018 will face trial next February. Nathan Truant, 26, and Noah Vatten, 20, were charged with manslaughter six months after Carriere was stabbed to death near the Queensway bus loop during the annual fireworks celebration.

On Monday, the two men's judge-alone trial was set for Feb. 22, 2021. It's expected to last three weeks.

Two other people were also charged with manslaughter in relation to Carriere's death, but since they were 17 at the time, they can't be identified. Their case will be back before the courts on July 13 to set a date for separate trial.

The Tejwant Danjou murder trial was delayed mid-trial due to the pandemic. Evidence submissions at the trial wrapped up on June 5, after a two-and-a-half-month delay, but closing arguments have also been delayed through all of June. The BC Prosecution Service would only say that the June delays were to defence counsel being unable to attend “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

Closing arguments are now scheduled to take place this Friday. Justice Alison Beames will deliberate on the matter following closing submissions.

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