The trial of Anderson Joe in the case of Teddy the dog has been postponed for at least two weeks.
The trial was expected to continue for its third day at the Duncan courthouse on March 15, but defence counsel Scott Sheets was unable to attend due to a “personal tragedy” and is requesting new counsel for Anderson Joe.
Judge Mayland McKimm said he’s not prepared to declare a mistrial and that “alternate arrangements” must be made so that the case can continue.
“This trial will proceed as expeditiously as possible and will continue no later than two weeks from today,” McKimm said in the packed courtroom.
“We’ll meet again on March 19 to fix a date.”
Meanwhile, Melissa Tooshley, who had pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide the necessities of life for an animal in the same case earlier in the trial, has withdrawn her guilty plea.
Prosecutor John Blackman said new information has come forward that instigated Tooshley to withdraw her guilty plea, and the Crown is not opposed.
It’s expected she will stand trial on the same charges in a First Nations court in late April.
Anderson Joe is up on charges of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and failing to provide the necessities of life for an animal.
If convicted, Joe could face a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison, a $10,000 fine and up to a lifetime ban on owning animals.
The case has seen animal rights activists gathering in front of the courthouse on each day of the trial carrying signs demanding justice for Teddy, while others filled the courtroom to hear details of the trial.
In one of the most profoundly shocking and disturbing cases of abuse the BC SPCA has ever witnessed, special constables seized Teddy in critical distress from Anderson’s property on Feb. 16, 2018.
On Wednesday, local leaders stood united with Cowichan Tribes chief William (Chip) Seymour at the Cowichan Tribes band office to denounce the brewing racism that’s emerged as a result of the Teddy the dog trial.
There have been reports of intimidation, harassment, fires set and even gun shots at houses on the reserve due to the high passions related to the trial.