Pre-trial matters continue in Kelowna murder cases

Murder cases in court

A Kelowna murder case continues to slowly wind its way through the courts, while another is set to begin trial next month.

Thursday morning, Justice Alison Beames delivered her decision on one of several pre-trial evidentiary matters in the second-degree murder case of 43-year-old Lorence Earl Williams.

Williams was arrested back on May 31, 2021, following the death of Thomas Chadwick the night prior, near Sexsmith and Adams roads. He's remained in custody ever since.

An eight-week trial for Williams has been set for March of next year, but the case has been in Kelowna court through the spring and summer for several “voir dires.” These function as a sort of mini trial, where a judge rules on evidentiary issues before the case is put in front of a jury.

The contents of the voir dires are covered by a sweeping publication ban, to ensure potential jurors are not exposed to any inadmissible evidence prior to a trial.

At least one more voir dire is expected to be held in Williams' case before next year's trial.

Meanwhile, 44-year-old Gabriella Sears, who was previously known as Dereck Sears, is set to face a second-degree murder trial next month. Sears was arrested following the June 17, 2021 killing of Darren Middleton on Rutland's Sycamore Road.

That killing occurred just two and half weeks after the death of Thomas Chadwick.

Sears' matter has also been winding its way through voir dires in Kelowna court, while Sears remains in custody. The last voir dire is scheduled to wrap up next week and the jury trial will begin once a ruling on that has been made.

The killings of Chadwick and Middleton were two of four killings in the Central Okanagan in 2021. Billie Jo Bennett fatally stabbed her husband Jim Bennett on the morning of Oct. 18, 2021. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was handed a 14-year sentence earlier this year.

Kenneth Craig was fatally shot in the early morning hours of March 21, 2021 while riding his bike on West Kelowna's Highway 97 near Elk Road. No arrests have been made in his killing.

More Kelowna News