Trial Of Trans-Identified Male Accused Of Murder Delayed To Accommodate His Name Change Request

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The long-awaited trial of a Canadian man accused of murder is facing setbacks after he filed to change his name in the indictment due to his transgender status. Gabriella Sears, born Dereck Donald Sears, has been in prison since 2021 for brutally dismembering and murdering a man in Kelowna, British Columbia.

As previously reported by Reduxx, Sears was arrested in 2021 and charged with second-degree murder and interference with human remains in the death of 49-year-old Darren Middleton, who had employed Sears to do occasional work for him.

Middleton’s body was first discovered on June 16, 2021, by his partner at the time, Brenda Adams, who went looking for him at Sears’ home after he failed to return from work that evening. Middleton was found in Sears’ bathroom partially clothed next to a bathtub with the water running.

Although Middleton reportedly died after receiving a blow to the head, the Crown prosecutors revealed he received several other disturbing injuries post-mortem, including the partial removal of his penis and testicles, a gash to his throat that “was so deep Adams could see right inside,” and other stab wounds. Additionally, Adams noted that Middleton was wearing someone else’s clothing.

After seeing the dismembered corpse of her common-law partner, Adams fled the crime scene, screaming. As she ran from the house, she saw Sears dancing in the middle of the road “with his eyes closed and his arms in the air” to no music.

While Sears, who had a full beard at the time of the arrest, did tell Adams and Middleton he was a woman two days before committing his heinous crimes, he was identified by police as a man.

The trial was underway last fall but was put on pause after Sears terminated his attorneys, Jordan Watt and Tom Forss, 18 days in. Despite successfully having his confessions excluded as evidence during the trial, Sears accused them of “gaslighting [him] and colluding with the Crown.” Watt and Forss also argued that because Sears was allegedly sexually abused by Middleton, the routine strip search and swabbing conducted by police “was traumatic and insensitive.”

Several months later, he parted ways with another lawyer, Mark Swartz, who announced he was no longer representing Sears due to a “fundamental breakdown in the solicitor-client relationship.”

“Gabriella” Sears

Although, as Castanet reports, the trial is set to recommence in July, Sears’ application to have his name changed on the indictment, citing his “equality rights” outlined in Section 16 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, may cause further delays.

In response to Sears’ request, Crown prosecutor David Grabavac expressed during an appearance this week that he is “not unsympathetic” to Sears’s reasoning for wanting to change his name but doesn’t believe the timing was right to bring forth his application.

“This is a novel legal issue which may have far-reaching consequences … I’ve never seen Section 15 of the Charter used like this in a criminal matter,” explained Grabavac. “We haven’t had a chance to research this issue … we’re going to need a couple weeks to figure out what position, if any, we have on this.”

Continuing, Grabavac expressed that given the gravity of the situation and the brutality of the murder, getting the trial completed promptly needs to be a priority.

“The priority, with the greatest respect to everyone, should be getting the trial completed as soon as possible … I don’t know how much research is going to have to go into this and if we’re spending a day or two fighting over this in a few weeks, that’s taking away from trial prep.”

In addition to Sears having several issues committing to legal representation, Justice Ross, the former judge on the case, is stepping down per a constitutional amendment that requires all judges to retire at 75 years old. As a result of this change, Sears will have the authority to decide whether to continue with the proceedings that started last fall or start the trial over.

Although it is unclear how Sears plans to proceed, his new attorney Frances Mahonm, said that it is still up in the air but Sears will likely ask civilian witnesses to re-testify and will “consent to allowing forensic evidence and RCMP testimony to carry over from last fall.”

Sears is currently scheduled to make a court appearance in two weeks, which will clarify how the trial will proceed moving forward.

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The post Trial Of Trans-Identified Male Accused Of Murder Delayed To Accommodate His Name Change Request appeared first on Reduxx.


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