The Canadian military commander charged with two murders and sexual assaults near the eastern Ontario military base he oversaw has retained a top defence lawyer from Ottawa.
Michael Edelson will take on Col. Russell Williams’ case, but will send an agent to a scheduled video appearance in a Belleville, Ont., court Thursday.
Williams, 46, is being held without bail in the Quinte Detention Centre in nearby Napanee. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd.
The charges have rocked the Canadian military to its core and have left the communities in which the alleged crimes occurred badly shaken.
Edelson has a number of other high-profile clients, including Nova Scotia Bishop Raymond Lahey, who is charged with possessing and importing child pornography. He also represented Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien, who was found not guilty last August of influence-peddling.
Edelson has represented over 55 clients charged with murder in his 29-year career, according to his website.
Williams, of Tweed, Ont., served as commander of Canada’s largest military airfield, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, until his arrest Feb. 7 in Ottawa.
Comeau, 37, was found dead in her home in Brighton, Ont., last November. She was a flight attendant at CFB Trenton and served aboard the same military VIP flights Williams piloted for much of the 1990s, ferrying the Governor General, the prime minister and other dignitaries on domestic and overseas trips.
Lloyd’s body was found in Tweed two weeks after the 27 year old failed to show up at her job in Napanee.
Police have said they don’t expect to release the cause of death of either Lloyd or Comeau.
Besides two first-degree murder charges, Williams faces two counts of forcible confinement and two counts of break and enter and sexual assault relating to the attacks in Tweed last September.
According to a search warrant issued before Williams emerged as the primary suspect in the cases, detectives entered the home of a prior suspect looking for lingerie, baby blankets and computer data storage devices.
The warrant was related to the attacks on the two women who were bound and sexually assaulted in their homes last September. Both women lived within walking distance of the Williams cottage.