Accused killer flip-flops on pleas

Judge ordered his personal appearance because Andretti wanted to enter guilty pleas without having consulted with a lawyer

A man accused of killing his wife is finally getting a lawyer, but it wasn’t easy.

Traigo Andretti, 37, is charged with the first degree murder of his wife Jennifer McPherson, 41.

He’s also charged with committing an indignity to a human body.

The Hanson Island man was arrested May 6, the same day McPherson’s remains were found on the island where they worked as resort caretakers.

Since then, Andretti has made several brief appearances in Campbell River provincial court, mostly by video from the jail cells in Victoria where he’s being held.

On Monday though, Andretti appeared in person in court. A judge ordered his personal appearance because Andretti wanted to enter guilty pleas without having consulted with a lawyer.

Crown prosecutor David Fitzsimmons also agreed that Andretti should have either legal counsel or someone to advise him before pleas were entered.

Andretti did have a lawyer after his first arrest, but she was removed from the case in June after she advised the court that the lawyer-client relationship had broken down.

Since then, Andretti repeatedly told judges that he doesn’t want a lawyer and at his last court appearance in July, he said he wanted to plead guilty  to both charges.

That prompted the personal appearance order. As well, Fitzsimmons told the provincial court judge the matter would have to go before a B.C. Supreme Court justice.

On Monday morning, Andretti appeared in the prisoner’s box in Campbell River provincial court. According to Fitzsimmons, Andretti told the judge he still wanted to plead guilty, so the case was shifted to the next courtroom where a supreme court judge was sitting.

This time though, Andretti pleaded not guilty and asked for a lawyer.

The judge gave him until his next court appearance, Sept. 16, to consult with legal counsel.