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Accused trying to withdraw guilty plea for West Kelowna murder

Trying to recant murder plea

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.

Crown lawyer Michael Lefebure responded to Tejwant Danjou's request to withdraw his guilty plea, calling it a "very serious application" for the defence to contemplate.

"The Crown felt that yesterday’s process was careful and thoughtful and in line with the requirements of the criminal code and the represented case law," he told the court.

Lefebure then emphasized that the onus is on the defence to produce sufficient documentation and prepare the Crown for Friday morning's proceedings. 

Judge Alison Beames says for the sake of counsel and witnesses, it is in the best interests of the court to proceed as quickly as possible with a decision. 

"I have no way of knowing whether the application will be successful, but I do know that all counsel came in yesterday prepared to proceed to trial and it seems to me that if the application is successful, that is to say that the guilty plea is withdrawn, I would think it makes imminent sense to start the trial effectively as quickly as possible after a ruling that sets aside the guilty plea.

"If there’s a ruling that the guilty plea is not to be set aside, then I would expect to proceed in a timely fashion to sentencing."

Beames concluded the session by asking counsel to keep themselves flexible and available in anticipation of application submissions in regards to the withdrawal of the guilty plea Friday morning.

"I ask that you be prepared to proceed with something - guilty plea not withdrawn then sentencing, or guilty plea withdrawn then trial - within a relatively short time frame." 

ORIGINAL: 10:30 a.m.

A Lower Mainland man who shocked his own lawyers Tuesday with a surprise guilty plea to a West Kelowna murder is having second thoughts. 

Tejwant Danjou, 69, pleaded guilty to the July 2018 second-degree murder of Rama Gauravarapu on Tuesday on what was supposed to be the opening of a weeks-long trial.

When lawyers reconvened Wednesday morning to submit an agreed statement of facts on the circumstances surrounding the murder, defence counsel dropped another bombshell. 

Danjou says he did not intend to plead guilty to second-degree murder because he claims he did not intend to kill the victim.

"When I went in with a set of admissions to sign - and this is why I wanted a set of admissions, to make sure we weren’t going to somewhere down the road run into this kind of issue - he refused to sign the admissions particular with the part that says he intended to kill the victim," says defence lawyer Donna Turko. 

Danjou then made a request to withdraw his guilty plea. 

Lawyers agreed to re-enter negotiations this week and reconvene in court on Friday morning when final submissions will be reviewed. If the guilty plea is withdrawn, a judge-alone trial will begin as soon as possible. 

Danjou, a resident of Surrey, is charged in the death of Gauravarapu at the Best Western Hotel in West Kelowna on the evening of July 22, 2018.

He was found hiding in a nearby dumpster a short time later. He has been in custody ever since.

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