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Lawyer for man accused of animal cruelty withdraws from case

A Conception Bay South man  accused of animal cruelty involving seven pit bulls is looking for a new lawyer.

Ross A. Martin was in provincial court in St. John's today for what was supposed to be the start of his trial. — Photo by Rosie Mullaley/The Telegram

That's after the lawyer who has represented him since last year withdrew from the case.

Ross A. Martin was supposed to have his trial begin today in provincial court in St. John’s. However, Randy Piercey asked be taken off the case because he's been unable to contact Martin and, as a result, has been unable to get instructions from him pertaining to the case. Piercey said Martin's phone was out of service.

He said Martin's intention is to hire a lawyer from the Simmonds and Partners defence firm.

Crown prosecutor Jude Hall pointed out that the case has been ongoing for quite a while and he would like to see it proceed without further delays. However, he said he understands Piercey's dilemma.

When the judge asked Martin what his plan was, Martin said he's been working on saving money to retain a new lawyer. He said he's sold his motorcycle and plans to sell land to his cousin.

He said most of the delays on the case were not his doing.

Earlier this year, Martin had planned to plead guilty. An agreement on the facts of the case had been made with the previous Crown prosecutor. However, Hall wouldn't agree to the same terms and a trial date was set.

Orr agreed to allow Piercey to withdraw from the case, but instructed Martin to contact the lawyer he plans to retain and have the case called again this afternoon.

"But I don't have a cell phone and I don't have money for a cab," Martin said.

"There are plenty of phones around here you can use," the judge replied.

When Martin was leaving court, Piercey gave him directions to Simmonds and Partners law firm.

Martin, 36, faces almost two dozen charges, including more than a dozen in relation to animal cruelty against the pit bulls.

He is charged with seven counts each of animal cruelty and unlawfully causing an animal unnecessary suffering.

The dogs were seized from an abandoned property in Upper Gullies in December 2013 after residents reported hearing yelps. The dogs were taken to an animal hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, in unrelated incidents, Martin faces charges of assaulting a peace officer, mischief by damaging property, causing a disturbance and two counts of uttering threats.

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