Voir dire begins for Okotoks murder

Court: Jury will hear evidence next week

By: Darlene Casten

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 05, 2014 06:00 am

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Almost two years after a Filipino temporary worker was stabbed to death in her Okotoks apartment, the trial of the deceased woman’s ex-boyfriend began in a Calgary courtroom.

Carlos Pelaez is charged with the second-degree murder of Marites Teresa Reyes Enrique, 26 of the Philippines.

Enrique had only arrived in Canada from the Philippines a few weeks before her death on April 17, 2012.

Friends said Pelaez helped Enrique get a job at the Okotoks McDonalds were he worked, but when she arrived, they say she didn’t want to go to work and wanted to return to the Philippines.

EMS were called to the pair’s Cimarron apartment, where Pelaez and Enrique were found with serious injuries. Enrique died before she could be taken to hospital. Pelaez was treated in hospital and was arrested and charged upon his release.

Pelaez was originally charged with first-degree murder, but Crown prosecutor Ron Simenik and defence lawyer David Chow agreed at the beginning of the preliminary inquiry, held in December 2012, that the charge should be reduced to second-degree murder.

Pelaez quietly answered ‘not guilty’ to the charges Monday morning when he was arraigned.

Few other details of the court case can be made public until next week. A one-week voir dire began Monday and is expected to last all week. Evidence given during the voir dire is subject to a publication ban.

It took a year to book a time for the lengthy trial, which concerned defence lawyer David Chow, who tried to have the hearing moved up, but said because it is scheduled to take a month it could not be accommodated sooner.

He said it was hard on Pelaez to await his trial over the past year at the Calgary Remand Centre, but said now that the hearing has started his client’s concern is growing.

“I think he’s frightened, now that things are beginning,” Chow said. “Before he was waiting and anticipating. Now of course he is worried. It has been hard for him in remand, as it for everyone who is in remand.”

Judge Rosemarie Nation is expected to rule on the voir dire issues later this week.

Next week a jury selected in late January will begin hearing evidence into the case. Approximately 30 witnesses are slated to testify. The trial is scheduled to end Feb. 28.


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