The preliminary inquiry for Christopher Alexander Falconer, 30, began in Pictou Provincial Court on Monday.
Falconer, who was escorted into the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies, was charged between October 9 and November 5 in Pictou County with the first degree murder and kidnapping of Amber Kirwan, 19. She went missing in October 2011; her remains were found in Heathbell about a month later.
The inquiry is expected to last 15 full days spread out between February and March.
Both Crown and defence requested a publication ban on all evidence brought forward during inquiry. Judge Del Atwood granted the request which includes the publication or broadcasting of information on evidence and also includes social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The co-counsel, Bill Gorman and Patrick Young for the Crown called three witnesses on the first day.
“The defence agreed to committal which means the accused will stand trial in Supreme Court after the preliminary inquiry,” explained Gorman. “The defence (Mike Taylor) acknowledges there is enough evidence to go to trial.”
Basically that means the preliminary inquiry is the defence’s right to see the Crown’s case and assess the strengths and weaknesses.
The Crown has pared down its witness list from 48 to approximately 40, meaning the inquiry may not last as long as the 15 days set aside. There will be six expert witnesses called.
The defence has also agreed to continuity.
“Basically that refers to the chain of custody of evidence. If an exhibit went through five hands, we would have to call all five witnesses, so agreeing to continuity will definitely save time,” said Gorman.
Gorman and Young say at this point they would guess to see a trial in about a year’s time, winter 2014.
About a dozen people attended the afternoon proceedings, including Kirwan’s parents.
The inquiry continued Tuesday morning.