NEWS

Jean-Claude Savoie, Man Charged After Boys Killed By Python, Opts For Jury Trial

04/27/2015 02:03 EDT | Updated 06/27/2015 05:59 EDT

CAMPBELLTON, N.B. - A man charged in the deaths of two boys who were killed by a python in northern New Brunswick has elected for a jury trial.

Jean-Claude Savoie is charged with criminal negligence causing death after the two young brothers were asphyxiated by an African rock python in Campbellton.

Lawyer Leslie Matchim appeared in provincial court Monday on Savoie's behalf, where he told the court his client elects to be tried by judge and jury in the Court of Queen's Bench.

Four-year-old Noah Barthe and his six-year-old brother Connor were found dead on Aug. 5, 2013, after the snake escaped its enclosure inside Savoie's apartment in Campbellton, where they were staying for a sleepover.

The RCMP alleged at the time that the 45-kilogram snake escaped a glass tank through a vent and slithered through a ventilation pipe, but its weight caused the pipe to collapse and it fell into the living room where the boys were sleeping.

Savoie, 38, was arrested Feb. 5 near Montreal, where he now lives.

Matchim said it has been a long ordeal for his client.

"It helps that he's a little bit outside of the area and out of the limelight, but he keeps in contact with a number of friends locally,'' Matchim said outside court. "There's no question he would like this whole nightmare to be behind him.''

Savoie's preliminary hearing has been set for Nov. 24-27 in provincial court.

A conviction of criminal negligence causing death carries a maximum life sentence.