It’s unusual for a large group of people to stand trial at the same time, as may turn out to be the case in the homicide of Tiki Laverdiere, a retired high-profile defence lawyer says.Bill Roe, who is now a sessional lecturer for the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan, has a wealth of experience with high-profile cases, including the trial of Curtis Dagenais, who was convicted of killing two Saskatchewan RCMP officers.Speaking in general terms, Roe shared his insights into how a case with multiple defendants could proceed through the criminal court system.Eight people are charged in connection with the death of Laverdiere, 25, who went missing in the North Battleford/Thunderchild First Nation area after attending the funeral of a friend, Tristen Cook-Buckle, 20. Her family last heard from her on May 1 and she was reported missing on May 12. Laverdiere’s remains were found outside North Battleford in July.Six of the eight people charged in connection with her death face first-degree murder and kidnapping charges, including Cook-Buckle’s mother, Nicole Cook of Edmonton.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.“You don’t normally find seven or eight people involved in a common enterprise,” Roe said.The main strategic reason for charging multiple people together in the same case would be to have the witnesses testify once time at the preliminary hearing and once at trial, putting all of the evidence before one jury, Roe said.A decision to charge and try all accused together is ultimately the decision of the Crown, he noted. The Crown may consider the convenience of dealing with all of them at once, the potential cost to the taxpayer of having individual trials instead of one and the possibility of inconsistent verdicts, he said.On the other hand, each of the accused people can apply for severance — that is, to be tried separately on the evidence pertaining to them. If the interest of justice requires it, a judge can make an order to have an accused charged separately, Roe noted.For example, if the Crown has evidence that’s admissible against one person, but not another, the defence could argue that even though a jury may be instructed to ignore that evidence when considering the case against the second person, they may not be able to separate it, which would be prejudicial, Roe said. However, such an order is difficult to obtain.Having a joint trial of this size, particularly if it’s a jury trial, could mean that instructions to jurors could become more complicated. Each accused person’s defence lawyer also has the same right as the Crown to cross-examine the other accused people.Roe said a large number of people could be summoned for jury selection in this case, which he doesn’t feel would be a problem in the North Battleford judicial centre, where the accused people have made court appearances.“You’re going to have to have a very large jury pool on this one.”firstname.lastname@example.orgRelated New charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping laid against one accused in Tiki Laverdiere homicide Reporter’s note (Sept. 12): Peremptory challenges will be abolished once amendments under the act formerly known as Bill C-75 takes effect. Bill Roe notes that this case will likely go to trial after the amendments take effect later this month, so jurors would not be subject to peremptory challenges. They could still be subject to challenges for cause and a judge will determine whether the grounds of the challenge is true. A previous version of this story included an observation that jurors could face peremptory challenges.