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No limit on lawyer-switching for accused killer

January 24, 2013 - 11:52 AM

With the accused killer of an Armstrong teen on his fourth lawyer, the question on many lips is how long can this go on?

Taylor Van Diest, 18, was brutally beaten and left for dead on the railway tracks near Armstrong Elementary School on Halloween of 2011. She'd been on her way to meet a friend, and when they didn't cross paths, it became obvious something was wrong. A call to Van Diest's house from someone saying they'd found her cell phone confirmed it. Friends, family, and police officers scoured the area and she was eventually discovered by her boyfriend and rushed to hospital. She couldn't be saved.

Matthew Foerster, 26, is charged with first degree murder, and while his trial was slated to begin this April in Kelowna. Last week he changed his lawyer yet again, further delaying the trial.

A Vernon lawyer agreed to provide some general context not related to the case, but preferred to do so anonymously. She said changing counsel is common, though she admitted it's unusual for someone to do so more than two or three times.

"It's really important that a client have a good relationship with their lawyer," she said. "There can be very good reasons to change lawyers."

She said the court must approve the changes, and that unless there is opposition, the individual is free to seek a perfect fit, even if it means trying on several sizes.

"At some point, the court might get a stiff back about it," she said.

As for corresponding delays, she said the nature of the case is considered. In trials heavily dependent on eye witnesses, delays can compromise the evidence presented in court.

"You don't want too much time passing, otherwise people start to forget," she said.

But in cases where expert witnesses are involved, she said delays are less of a concern.

"The evidence doesn't get stale," she said.

Eye witnesses are not expected to be major factors in the Van Diest murder. 

Stephen Foerster, Matthew's father, is facing charges of obstruction of justice and accessory to murder after the fact. His trial will occur at the Vernon Law Courts.

—Charlotte Helston
(250) 309-5230

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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