Tensions boiled over in a courtroom Wednesday when a man accused of murdering two young women in Oshawa refused to emerge from his jail cell for a scheduled video appearance.
The incident was the latest in the long-running court process for Adam Strong, who is accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of Rori Hache, 18, and Kandis Fitzpatrick, 19. Strong is being held at the Central East Corrections Centre as he awaits trial in 2020.
Strong, who has on more than one occasion displayed a flippant attitude during his court appearances, has managed to repeatedly offend family members of the two women. He set off a furor Wednesday when he refused to appear for a video appearance that has been scheduled for some time.
Lawyers discussed with Superior Court Justice Jocelyn Speyer how to proceed; Speyer suggested she order Strong, who has made all but one of his numerous court appearances by video, to appear in person for his next scheduled appearance.
Defence lawyer Justin Guile told the judge Strong’s appearances have been by video for “numerous reasons, perhaps security reasons.” He said he and lead defence lawyer Tom Balka would encourage Strong to co-operate in the future.
“That will be the message Mr. Balka and I will be passing along to Mr. Strong — the importance of appearing,” Guile said.
Strong’s antics proved too much for Kandis Fitzpatrick’s father, Bill, who stood in the court and demanded to be allowed to speak to Crown attorney Jinwon Kim. Speyer interjected but was quickly cut off.
“Shut up!” Fitzpatrick thundered, pointing his finger at the judge. He said court officials ought to order Strong to appear in person.
“I hear you, sir,” Speyer calmly replied.
“Bring him in person, you f—ing idiots,” Fitzpatrick said as he left the courtroom.
The incident led Rori Hache’s mother, Shanan Dionne, to speak up about the frustration mourning family members are feeling as the court process — Strong has been in custody since December of 2017 — drags on.
“We’ve had 37 court appearances,” Dionne said.
“I understand the gentleman is under a great deal of stress,” the judge acknowledged.
“That gentleman waited 10 years to find his daughter,” Dionne replied.
Wednesday was not the first time Strong has enraged those close to the case.
In November 2018, shortly after he had been formally charged with two counts of first-degree murder, Strong appeared in court by video. As the brief hearing ended his lawyer told Strong he’d call him later at the Lindsay jail to discuss the case. Strong said he didn’t feel up to it.
“I was up all night,” he complained. “I’m tired. I want to go to bed.”
And in February 2018 — when he had not yet been charged with murder and was facing a charge of committing an indignity to a dead body — Strong cracked jokes during a discussion about setting future dates.
“My schedule’s open,” Strong offered.
A judge told Strong his comment wasn’t funny.
“It was here,” Strong, who was handcuffed and wearing an orange jumpsuit, said as he glanced around the room he stood in. “Everybody’s laughing.”
Strong’s murder charges, laid in November 2018, followed a lengthy investigation by Durham police. Strong was already in custody, charged with indecent interference with a dead body after some of Hache’s remains were found in his McMillan Dr. apartment in December 2017. Hache, 18, disappeared in August 2017. A few weeks later, her torso was discovered in the waters of Oshawa Harbour.
In July 2018, Durham police announced that DNA linked to Fitzpatrick, who was 19 when she went missing, was discovered during their extensive search of Strong’s apartment.
Strong is scheduled to appear in court by video Oct. 23.
Jeff Mitchell is a reporter for DurhamRegion.com. Reach him via email: email@example.com