LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A southern Alberta man accused of killing three people including a father and his daughter is to face a seven-week trial before a judge and jury.
A judge in Lethbridge has set the trial's start date for May 8, 2017.
Derek Saretzky, 23, was originally charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Terry Blanchette and his two-year-old daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette last September.
In April, police added a third first-degree murder charge in the slaying of Hanna Meketech, 69, whose death occurred five days before the others. Her body was found in her home.
Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and her father Terry Blanchette were found dead in September 2015. (Photo: Facebook)
Saretzky, who appeared via CCTV from the Calgary Remand Centre on Monday, said, ``Yes I do'' when asked by the judge if he understood what was happening in the proceedings.
He entered a plea of not guilty on all the charges.
Edmonton lawyer Patrick Edgerton, who was acting on behalf of Saretzky's lawyer Peter Northcott, told reporters the decision was to proceed with a single trial since the Crown decided to proceed with direct indictment.
Saretzky is also charged in the death of Hanna Meketech. (Photo: Alberta RCMP)
"It's a matter I guess of court efficiency and not breaking it up into two separate trials. There's a lot of matters that overlap between the two and so it saves court time to do that and just makes it a little easier to manage.''
Edgerton said at this point the case will be heard before a jury but that could change as the trial gets closer.
Trial could change as date gets closer
"Judge and jury is the default on first-degree murder without the consent of the Crown,'' he said.
"There can always be discussions down the road. It's not bound necessarily at this point in time. We're not forced to do a judge and jury if the Crown is on board.''
Saretzky was arrested in the Crowsnest Pass area after Terry Blanchette, 27, was found dead in his Blairmore home on Sept. 14, and an Amber Alert was issued for two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, who had been abducted earlier that morning.
Her remains were discovered in a rural area a few days later.
Friends and family of both the victims and Saretzky were in the courtroom for the arraignment but declined comment after the proceedings had concluded.
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