LAVAL, Que. — A preliminary hearing for a Quebec man accused of killing two four-year-olds and injuring six other children after he allegedly drove a city bus into a Montreal-area daycare is expected to take place in the new year.
After a brief court appearance in Laval, Que., north of Montreal, defence lawyer Julien Lespérance Hudon said the prosecution had finished disclosing evidence and a preliminary hearing – which would last one week – could be scheduled for March or April.
His client, Pierre Ny St-Amand, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder as well as seven other charges, including attempted murder and aggravated assault. The 51-year-old bus driver was arrested after a city bus crashed into the front of a daycare in Laval on Feb. 8, killing two four-year-olds and injuring six other children.
The case will return to court on Nov. 29 for a management hearing, during which the date and parameters of the preliminary hearing will be set.
However, Lespérance Hudon said that following the hearing, the judge may not order a trial.
"I hope so, actually," he said. "We don't go into a hearing just for fun, there's an objective behind that, and if we can avoid to go to trial after that, yes, that would be one of the objectives."
He declined to explain why he thought there might not be a trial, adding that he planned to prepare his strategy over the next month.
The accused was evaluated in February and judged fit to stand trial. A separate evaluation of St-Amand's mental state at the time of his alleged crimes, and whether he should be considered criminally responsible, was sealed by a judge in April.
If the case moves forward after the preliminary hearing, a trial could be scheduled for next fall.
Lespérance Hudon said that even though the case has been pushed back several times, he doesn't feel it is moving forward slowly.
"This case is complex," he said. "There's a lot of evidence, a lot of elements, a number of victims. It's a sensitive case, it's normal that time is being taken to ensure things are done well."
St-Amand did not appear in court Tuesday. The accused, who remains detained at the Philippe-Pinel institute, a Montreal psychiatric hospital, is expected to attend the Nov. 29 management hearing.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2023.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press