Ex-justice minister to defend daughter of former top bureaucrat in murder case | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Ex-justice minister to defend daughter of former top bureaucrat in murder case

Anne Norris, 28, charged with first-degree murder, appears via video link from the Correctional Centre for Women in Clarenville, N.L., on Tues. May 24, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sue Bailey
May 24, 2016 - 11:53 AM

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Anne Norris was once a talented kid with a bright future.

She made the news as a top athlete who, in 2005, was named to the women's under-19 basketball team competing for Newfoundland and Labrador at the junior national championships.

Her father, Gary Norris, was the province's top public servant — clerk of the executive council and secretary to cabinet — before retiring in 2010 with thanks from former premier Danny Williams.

But the headlines Anne Norris has made this month have shocked those who knew her as a teenager.

The slight 28-year-old sat Tuesday in a blue T-shirt, her short blonde hair unkempt, as she appeared via video link in a provincial courtroom in St. John's accused of first-degree murder.

Norris was charged earlier this month after the body of Marcel Reardon, 46, was found May 9 under the outdoor stairwell of a St. John's apartment building. Residents who saw the corpse told reporters he appeared to have been badly beaten.

Police have said Reardon and Norris knew each other and that no other suspects are sought. Officers also recovered a weapon that's believed to be involved in his death.

On Tuesday, Norris showed no emotion during the brief court appearance and spoke only to confirm at one point that she had not heard something clearly.

Former Williams-era political heavyweight Jerome Kennedy said outside court he agreed to defend Norris in part because he knows the family.

"I know Mr. Norris and I've known him for some time," he told reporters. "I was asked by the family to consider getting involved in this case."

Kennedy held several Progressive Conservative government cabinet portfolios — including justice, health and finance — before he left politics in 2013 to resume his law practice.

"I'm doing a few criminal cases, but certainly I did not expect to be back doing a murder trial," he said Tuesday.

Kennedy was a high profile defence lawyer before he ran for public office in 2007.

"I've done every kind of murder trial and investigated every kind of murder case over the last 30 years," he said. "Just the fact that (Norris) is charged at her age, and her background, is certainly something that I think requires full investigation and consideration."

"It's a tough situation all around," he said of the "intense emotional stress" Norris faces, and the grief of Marcel Reardon's loved ones, several of whom were in court Tuesday but declined to comment.

Kennedy said he and co-defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan have met once with Norris but it's too soon to comment on her mental state.

Media reports that she had received treatment at the Waterford psychiatric hospital in St. John's for bipolar symptoms just prior to Reardon's death are accurate "to a certain extent," Kennedy said.

Other details will come out as the case unfolds, he added.

"Our role is to ensure that Ms. Norris's constitutional rights are protected and to ensure that she receives a fair trial. It doesn't help anyone or anything at this point to speculate."

The case is due back in court May 31 for a status update.

Norris is being held at the Correctional Centre for Women in Clarenville, about two hours northwest of St. John's.

Kennedy said it's too early to say if he'll argue Norris was not criminally responsible for any alleged wrongdoing.

"We'll see the Crown file, we'll obtain the disclosure and we'll make our decisions based on what's contained in those materials."

Follow @suebailey on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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