A North Bay man originally from Sudbury will stand trial for the second degree murder of Renee Sweeney.
Robert Steven Wright, 38, is being held without bail in Greater Sudbury, where Renee Sweeney was killed in 1998 after being repeatedly stabbed by her attacker in an adult video store where she worked. Wright was an 18-year-old Lockerby Composite School student in early 1998.
The Crown Attorney’s office had been seeking and received a direct indictment in the case. There will be no November preliminary hearing as previously scheduled and the charge was lowered from first degree murder. Intent to commit the crime would have to be proven for a first degree murder conviction.
Wright’s lawyers, Berk Keaney and Michael Venturi, released a statement following the ruling: “When the defendant is subject to a direct indictment and deprived of a preliminary hearing, the defendant loses the right to argue that there is insufficient evidence for the matter to even go forward to trial.”
Wright’s legal team also stressed the importance of the “presumption of innocence,” in their client’s case, saying the trial judge will give instructions to the jury to reflect this and that the “jury should not consider a verdict until they have heard all the evidence.”
The Greater Sudbury Police Service continued to investigate Sweeney’s murder for 20 years and circulated computer-generated photographs of a likeness of a possible suspect built from a genetic profile.
Police say Wright was identified as a person of interest and further investigation led to the gathering of forensic evidence. Wright worked as a laboratory technician at North Bay Regional Centre, where he was arrested last December 11.
This case is under a publication ban preventing reporting on the details of the evidence presented at Wright’s bail hearing.