HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia man accused of double murder will not be starting his trial as planned this week.
Gerald Ashley Rushton, 49, is facing two counts of first-degree murder. It’s alleged he killed his common-law wife, Elizabeth MacPherson, 53, and her daughter, Brittany, 24 two years ago.
The bodies of the two women were discovered on December 27, 2013, in their home on Pictou Road in Truro.
Police have never said how either woman was killed. Rushton was also found injured inside the home and taken to hospital.
His trial was scheduled to start Tuesday morning at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax, but a last minute request for a change of lawyers for Rushton means for an undetermined delay in the case.
Elizabeth and Brittany Macpherson were found dead in their home in Truro on December 27, 2013. Contributed
Elizabeth and Brittany Macpherson were found dead in their home in Truro on December 27, 2013.
“Mr. Rushton advised me this morning that he no longer wishes me to represent him in this matter,” said lawyer Terry Sheppard, who had been representing Rushton since shortly after he was charged with the murders.
“It is a burden on the system for sure, but people must keep in mind that these are very, very difficult decisions, very difficult cases. Two people have lost their lives here. Mr. Rushton stands accused of that. The crown wants to put him in jail for at least the next 25-years and possibly for his life,” Sheppard said.
The Crown Attorneys working on the case were shocked by the last minute developments.
“It was literally minutes before we were due to commence this,” said Crown Attorney Alison Brown. “It is a huge disappointment from our perspective.”
A preliminary hearing held earlier this year determined there was enough evidence for Rushton to go to trial on two counts of first-degree murder. The evidence presented at that hearing is under a publication ban and cannot be reported.
A jury was selected Monday, and five weeks had been set aside for the case. The jury has now been dismissed, and the case adjourned.
The next scheduled court date for Rushton is now November 26. At that time, the judge will check on the status of the accused obtaining a new lawyer.