POLITICS

Pair charged in alleged mass murder plot get new court date in April

03/06/2015 04:00 EST | Updated 05/05/2015 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - The Crown prosecutor leading the case against two people accused of plotting to shoot shoppers in a Halifax mall says police are still gathering evidence and she has yet to disclose much to defence lawyers almost three weeks after charges were laid.

Speaking outside Halifax provincial court on Friday, Shauna MacDonald said lawyers representing 23-year-old Lindsay Kanittha Souvannarath of Geneva, Ill., and 20-year-old Randall Steven Shepherd of Halifax can expect to receive some files on Monday.

"It would be a complicated process in any event because of the nature of the charges," she said after a judge agreed to set a date for a preliminary hearing when the case returns to court April 10. "I haven't gone through all of the evidence. There is still more to come in."

Souvannarath and Shepherd, who both appeared in court Friday, were charged last month with conspiracy to commit murder. They also face charges of conspiracy to commit arson, illegal possession of weapons for a dangerous purpose and making a threat through social media.

Police allege the plot could have resulted in mass casualties at the Halifax Shopping Centre on Valentine's Day.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Souvannarath glanced up at photographers through a pair of thick-rimmed glasses just before her handcuffs were removed and she was led up a flight of stairs by a pair of sheriff's deputies. As she was led into the courtroom, she carefully adjusted her glasses, but her face was expressionless.

Shepherd, a thin man with shaggy, shoulder-length blond hair, slightly shook his head as his cuffs were removed.

Information sworn by Halifax police alleges the offences took place between Jan. 6 and Valentine's Day and were carried out in concert with James Lee Gamble, a 19-year-old man found dead by police in his Halifax home on Feb. 13.

Police say three long-barrelled rifles were seized from the home in the suburb of Timberlea.

MacDonald said neither Souvannarath nor Shepherd have applied for bail, though they are free to do so at any time.

"We've had no indication that it's going to happen at this point," MacDonald said outside court.

Given the nature of the charges, an application for bail would have to be submitted to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. If that were to happen, MacDonald said the Crown would oppose their release.

Souvannarath was represented by defence lawyer Luke Craggs. Shepherd's lawyer was Roger Burrill. Neither defence lawyer spoke to reporters after the hearing.

MacDonald confirmed the murder conspiracy charge means the accused would automatically face a judge and jury if the case goes to trial.

As well, she said even though some of the allegations against Souvannarath predate her arrival in Halifax on Feb. 13, the provincial Crown has jurisdiction because an offence can be committed in two places at the same time, adding that she has heard nothing from U.S. authorities.

As an example, she said someone in Calgary accused of threatening someone in Halifax could be charged in either place.

Police say Souvannarath and Shepherd were arrested at the airport in Halifax after she arrived there and met him.