The assault trial of a Nelson man accused of spitting on a woman during the first year of the pandemic began Wednesday only to be adjourned an hour later by an unexpected admission.
Jeremy Undershute is charged with spitting on Rhonda Comeau on Nov. 20, 2020, in an argument at Empire Coffee over the wearing of masks in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Comeau is a manager at the Adventure Hotel, which includes Empire Coffee.
Comeau suffered several heart attacks immediately following the incident, although Crown Council Keven Schecter said he will not attempt to show that the heart attacks were caused by the assault.
After one witness, an employee of Empire Coffee, had testified about the events leading to the incident, Comeau was called as a witness. Part of Schecter’s case against Undershute was a surveillance video from Empire Coffee that showed, from a considerable distance, the interaction between Comeau and Undershute.
While answering Schecter’s questions about the video, Comeau mentioned that there was a second video, from a different angle in the cafe, that she had kept on her office computer.
On hearing this, defence lawyer Don White asked Judge Robert Brown for an adjournment to a later date because neither he nor Undershute had seen the second video. White added that he also had not seen several photographs referred to in Comeau’s testimony that a police officer took of her immediately after the alleged assault.
Schecter told the court that he had not seen the video or photos either, and that he first became aware of them during Comeau’s testimony.
It is standard procedure in trials that the Crown and the defence must have both seen all evidence in advance.
White argued that he would have to see the video and the photos, and have time to review them with his client, before the trial could continue. He said their contents could influence the way he approached the case and could determine what kinds of cross-examination questions he might ask.
The judge agreed and granted the adjournment, stating that it is “within the principles of fundamental justice” that White and his client see and discuss the video and photos.
A date for the continuation of the trial will be set in Nelson court on Feb. 14.
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