Hamilton man’s manslaughter trial will have a new prosecutor


Published August 24, 2022 at 11:16 am

A Hamilton man who is charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a teenage girl cannot be tried by the local Crown attorney’s office — since his former lawyer now works there.

Devante Skye-Davis, who was recently arrested for breaching his strict bail conditions, is charged in connection with the death of 17-year-old Myah Larmond. Hamilton Police have alleged that, during a small house party on St. Matthews Ave. in July 2020, Skye-Davis fired a loaded gun recklessly, resulting in the death of Larmond.

Recently, Skye-Davis had to get a new lawyer. The legal counsel he had for 13 months started work on March 21 as an assistant Crown attorney in Hamilton, which is slated to prosecute him. It does not appear that there were any discussions within the office about the trial. But Justice Michael K. Wendl, of the Ontario Court of Justice, appeared to reprimand the Hamilton crown attorney’s office for not anticipating the issue when it hired the lawyer.

Failure to do so, the judge added, could undermine public confidence in the courts system; therefore, a Crown attorney from outside of the Hamilton office will need to be brought in.

“Clearly, no one in the Hamilton Office turned their mind to this issue,” Wendl writes in an eight-page ruling issued this week (on Aug. 22). “In my view, for the public to have confidence in the administration of justice it requires more than a reactionary approach from the Crown when former Defence counsel, who were actively involved in the cases against them, join the office. Former Defence counsel leaving private practice for the Crown attorney’s office is not an uncommon occurrence. It is concerning to this court that there does not appear to be any policy in place to deal with potential conflict-of-interest situations in the Hamilton Office. Again, a reactionary approach which waits for new Defence counsel to raise the issue or bring a conflict-of-interest motion is unacceptable.

Consequently, Wendl adds, “I order that the prosecution of this matter be continued by a Crown from outside the Hamilton Crown Attorney’s office.”

The former lawyer for Skye-Davis, who is not named in the decision, was removed as his counsel on April 6. A week later, Skye-Davis retained Jordana Goldlist, a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer, and his former counsel’s access to his file was sealed. By July 12, Deputy Crown Attorney Eric Taylor had confirmed that no inappropriate conversations had occurred, and all parties understood the ethical lines.

That was not enough to satisfy Justice Wendl, though.

“The protections came in well after the horse left the barn,” he writes.

Skye-Davis was charged less than 24 hours after the shooting of Larmond.

A second Hamilton man, Cadence Beauparlant, also of Hamilton, has also been charged with manslaughter and unauthorized possession of a loaded firearm.

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising