Man and woman charged with murder in OPP constable's death appear in court
Bail hearings for the man and woman charged with murder in the death of an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) constable have been adjourned to next month.
Randall McKenzie, 25, and Brandi Crystal Lyn Stewart-Sperry, 30, are each charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Const. Greg Pierzchala.
Both made brief appearances in a Cayuga, Ont. courtroom Tuesday before the hearing was adjourned to Feb. 21.
Defense teams say they need more time to review relevant evidence from prosecutors, with another wave of disclosures expected in mid-February.
Pierzchala was shot while responding to a call for a vehicle in a ditch west of Hagersville on Dec. 27. The 28-year-old later died in hospital.
Police have said Pierzchala was “essentially ambushed” and had no chance to defend himself.
EXPERT WEIGHS IN
Ari Goldkind, a criminal defence attorney who is not involved in this case says it’s common for a bail hearing to get adjourned when the charge is first-degree murder.
“Murder is a very specific and unique thing. When you are charged with murder, you don’t get a run of the mill bail hearing on a Tuesday in court. It must be booked at the superior court,” Goldkind said, adding it’s very rare for bail to be sought in first-degree murder cases.
While both of the accused are facing the same charge, their outcomes could be different when it comes to being granted bail, he said.
Goldkind thinks it’s unlikely McKenzie will be released on bail, but Stewart-Sperry might be.
“If the lady’s role is diminished – she was just there or along for the ride or potentially didn’t know what he was going to do to the officer – a court may see fit to release her on a very, very strict bail,” he explained.
CALLS FOR BAIL REFORM
The OPP have said he was under a lifetime firearms prohibition and had been charged in 2021 with several firearms offences and assaulting a peace officer. A warrant had been issued for this arrest and additional charges were laid after he failed to show up for a court appearance in September.
His criminal past has sparked calls from bail reform. Earlier this week, the premiers of all 13 provinces and territories signed a letter to the prime minister urging Ottawa to take immediate action to strengthen Canada’s bail system.
However, Goldkind says the current bail system works.
“Focus on the small subset of people who are a danger to you and I, and to police and law enforcement. That’s where the attention should be focused,” he said. “To say that everybody gets a free pass and it’s a revolving door – no, come with me for a day at bail court and I’ll set you straight.”
Both McKenzie and Stewart-Sperry have been in custody since their arrest.
McKenzie is being held at the Hamilton Wentworth Detention Centre. Stewart-Sperry is at the Vanier Centre for Women.
With file from The Canadian Press