Accused killer dumps lawyer

A Hanson Island man charged with his wife's murder told a Campbell River judge that he does not want a lawyer

A Hanson Island man charged with killing his wife says he doesn’t want a lawyer.

Traigo Andretti, 37, is charged with first degree murder and committing an indignity to a human body. He appeared in Campbell River provincial court on Monday for what was supposed to be a bail hearing, but instead his lawyer asked to be removed from the case.

“The relationship between us…has broken down,” Roxanne Helme told Judge Brian Saunderson.

Helme appeared by video with Andretti from cells in Victoria. He’s been there since early May after the remains of his wife, 41-year-old Jennifer McPherson, were found on Hanson Island.

She was last seen April 29 on Hanson Island where the two worked as caretakers at Pacific Outback Resort. Her remains were found on the island – located about eight kilometres northeast of Telegraph Cove – on May 6.

Andretti was arrested shortly after his wife’s remains were found and has been in custody since then.

He’s also been investigated in Manitoba in connection with the death of a former girlfriend, Myrna Letandre, whose remains were found May 9 in a Winnipeg rooming house where they apparently lived together. She was last seen in October 2006.

During a court appearance in June, Judge Saunderson urged Andretti to get a  lawyer.

“You’re accused of murder! You understand that?” the judge asked.

Andretti wound up getting Helme to represent him, but on Monday she was removed from the case following her request.

During questioning by Judge Saunderson, Andretti said he understood what he was doing.

“Do you want to be represented by a lawyer?” he asked.

Andretti replied, “No.”

“You need a lawyer whether you want one or not. Do you understand that?” the judge asked.

“Yes,” Andretti said.

Finally, Judge Saunderson asked, “You still don’t want a lawyer.”

And Andretti responded, “That’s right.”

Judge Saunderson replied that no one facing a murder charge, or any other serious charge, should be unrepresented in court. He asked Helme to contact Legal Aid in order to get Andretti another lawyer, if only to sit in and assist him during future court proceedings.

“I want Legal Services to act quickly so we can get his matter back on track,” the judge stated.

Andretti is due to back in court again, by video, on Aug. 12.