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Court to hear arguments in May on moving trial of accused Sweeney killer

Robert Steven Wright accused of murdering Laurentian University student in 1998
Robert Steven Wright. (Supplied)

An application to move the second-degree murder trial of Robert Steven Wright out of Sudbury will be heard May 11 and 12.

Wright is charged in the 1998 stabbing death of Renée Sweeney.

Lawyers for a suspect typically apply for a change of venue when they feel it's necessary to ensure the accused has a fair trial with an impartial jury.

Wright appeared for the hearing in person Feb. 21, while Superior Court Justice Alex Kurke spoke with the defence and Crown to determine dates for the change of venue application.

Kurke said he hoped an earlier date could be found to hear the application, but conceded with materials being filed by both parties in late March and April, that was impossible.

Wright was sporting a shaved head, black glasses, bushy beard, and dress shirt and pants during the brief hearing.

The suspect is also filing a Rowbotham application, which is a mechanism for people facing serious and complex criminal charges who have been denied legal aid, but cannot afford a lawyer. That matter will return to court March 11.

Earlier in February, the Crown failed in its attempt to have Wright's lawyers — Berk Keaney and Michael Venturi — removed as counsel, after filing a motion in December.

Sweeney, a Laurentian University student, was working at an adult video store on Paris Street when she was attacked and stabbed to death.

Wright — who was a student at Lockerby Composite School at the time of the murder — was arrested Dec. 11, 2018, at North Bay Regional Health Centre, where he worked as a laboratory technician.

He was originally charged with first-degree murder, however, since then the charge was downgraded, and the Crown's office succeeded in securing a direct indictment, meaning there will be no preliminary hearing. Wright is also facing a charge regarding child pornography. He won't be in court on that charge until October.


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