Man accused in arson chooses jury trial

Court: Preliminary hearing scheduled next year

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 04, 2011 05:53 pm

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A man accused of setting fire to his Okotoks condo chose to face a judge and jury at Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench.

Jacob Bodnar-Lawrence appeared briefly in Okotoks Provincial Court on Friday morning (April 29) where he chose to face a jury during a trial rather than a judge alone.

A date has not yet been set for the trial, but a preliminary hearing was scheduled for May 2, 2012. A preliminary hearing is held to determine if there is enough evidence to warrant a trial.

Late in the evening of Jan. 1, 2010 Okotoks fire personnel were called out to a fire in a four-plex on McRae Street. Soon after, RCMP responded to a report of a collision and a man with serious burns found at the intersection of Northridge Drive and 338th Avenue.

The fire caused extensive damage to the suite and damaged neighbouring units as well. Damage was so extensive to one unit it forced owner Shawna Birce and her daughter to move out of their home because of high carbon monoxide levels. Birce said she expected to be back in her home a year ago, however, she has not been able to move back home and her insurance company has been paying her rent in an apartment until repairs on her home can be completed.

Jacob Bodnar-Lawrence is charged with five counts of arson endangering life and one count of leaving the scene of a collision. He has not yet made a plea on the charges.


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