Man who murdered girlfriend rages as his lawyer withdraws from case

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A man convicted of murdering his girlfriend more than 20 years ago vented his anger at the legal system in court Thursday, throwing the schedule of the appeal of his conviction into doubt.

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Stephane Parent, who was convicted in October 2021 for the Feb. 14, 2002, second-degree murder of 21-year-old Adrienne McColl, castigated the legal system in expletive-laden outbursts in a virtual hearing of the Alberta Court of Appeal.

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“I’ve been asking for a legal aid lawyer since (last) September . . . you guys are all corrupt,” Parent told Judge Patricia Rowbotham and Crown and defence counsel.

“You’re just trying to keep me in maximum security for as long as possible . . . I was convicted by a poisoned jury.”

Rowbotham repeatedly cut off Parent, who compared himself to the late David Milgaard, who was wrongly convicted of a 1969 murder and spent 23 years in prison for it.

Minutes before that outburst, his lawyer, Mona Duckett, was granted permission to withdraw from the case, with the attorney saying Parent “had expressed his loss of confidence” in her.

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Parent has fired lawyers in the past, and the latest uncertainty with his representation has put in doubt hopes his appeal will be heard in March, court heard.

“Based on his representation today, I don’t know how his date can proceed,” said Crown prosecutor Christine Rideout.

Parent has always insisted he was innocent and that evidence pointed to McColl dying Feb. 17, two days after he left the province.

But a jury at his 2021 trial believed the Crown’s evidence that McColl was beaten and strangled by Parent on Valentine’s Day 2002, before he “got out of Dodge” by fleeing to Ontario.

DNA evidence linked Parent to the crime, agued Crown prosecutor Shane Parker.

The woman’s body was found Feb. 17, 2002, in a farmer’s field west of Nanton.

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Parent, now 54, remained free until his arrest on Feb. 17, 2018, on the 16th anniversary of McColl’s body being found, at his home in Gatineau, Que., across the Ottawa River from the nation’s capital.

Following the guilty verdict, both defence lawyer Gavin Wolch and co-counsel Chad Haggerty applied to be removed from the record because of a breakdown in their relationship with their client.

When he was sentenced last January, Parent challenged its veracity, insisting the Crown had gone back on its word.

Only in Alberta can you go from time served to 17 years. They offered me time served,” Parent said at the time, suggesting that was the deal the Crown had earlier put on the table before he was convicted of second-degree murder.

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At the time, prosecutor Shane Parker quickly corrected Parent’s claim, noting that at the height of the pandemic when cases were being triaged, the convicted killer was offered a deal to plead guilty to manslaughter, but not for a sentence of time served.

On Thursday, Parent said he didn’t want to represent himself but also rejected the use of a legal aid lawyer, while complaining court officials were ignoring his submission of documents that would aid his appeal.

Rowbotham said she would read a 41-page set of documents Parent said he sent court officials last August.

Parent said he’s also hoping to challenge his conviction with a so-called Jordan application by alleging his case has faced an unacceptable delay.

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The Crown’s Rideout said he needs to file that application and challenged Parent’s contention the legal process has treated him unfairly.

“I don’t accept the submissions Mr. Parent has made . . . it’s not as straightforward as Mr. Parent expects it’s going to be,” she told court.

A hearing to assess the progress of Parent’s appeal is scheduled for Jan. 17.

— With files from Kevin Martin

Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn


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