Fernwood murder case hits pretrial stage

The pretrial conference of two men accused of murdering a Fernwood man in 2010 is now underway in B.C. Supreme Court.

The pretrial conference of two men accused of murdering a Fernwood man in 2010 is now underway in B.C. Supreme Court.

Andrew Belcourt of Victoria was 19 years old when he was arrested by Victoria police on March 3, 2010, 18 hours after he allegedly fatally shot Leslie Ronald Hankel inside his Fernwood apartment.

Police responded to calls from witnesses who reported seeing a man carrying a shotgun in the 1200 block of Pembroke Street just after midnight on March 3.

It was Victoria’s first homicide of 2010.

Samuel Gregory McGrath was arrested eight months later on Nov. 17, 2010 on the West Shore by officers with the Vancouver Island Major Crimes Unit, Victoria police and West Shore RCMP.

The men each face charges of murder, robbery and break and enter.

McGrath was brought into B.C. Supreme Court Tuesday, followed by Belcourt. They were each handcuffed and shackled at the ankles.

After sitting in their separate enclosed prisoners’ boxes, they exchanged a quick nod at the start of the voir dire proceedings, which are under a publication ban.

The pretrial conference began Jan. 23 and is expected to take about five weeks, Crown counsel Peter Juk confirmed, adding that a trial has been scheduled for five to seven weeks, beginning in April.