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Beating death trial in Halifax delayed after accused fires lawyer

Don Murray, lawyer for Andre Noel Denny, walks from Supreme Court in Halifax onTuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Denny is charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of 49-year-old Raymond Taavel in April 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

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Don Murray, lawyer for Andre Noel Denny, walks from Supreme Court in Halifax onTuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Denny is charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of 49-year-old Raymond Taavel in April 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX - The trial of a 35-year-old man accused in the fatal beating of a gay rights activist in Halifax was delayed Tuesday after he was allowed to fire his lawyer.

Andre Noel Denny of Membertou, N.S., is charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of Raymond Taavel.

Taavel, 49, died outside the Menz bar on Gottingen Street in Halifax during an altercation in April 2012.

Denny's trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, but that was postponed when he asked Judge Peter Rosinski for permission to fire defence lawyer Don Murray.

Murray, who has been Denny's lawyer since August 2012, also said in court that he wished to be dropped as counsel because he felt the solicitor-client relationship was "irretrievably broken."

Rosinski granted Denny his request after an in-camera hearing. When court returned, Rosinski said Denny's father strongly opposed the request but since psychiatric reports determined last year that Denny is fit to stand trial, the accused is capable of making his own decisions.

"Mr. Denny is adamant that he does not wish Mr. Murray to continue as his lawyer in this case," Rosinski said.

"While this may not be in his best interests, neither the court nor his family are entitled to interfere with his decision in the circumstances as I see them before me."

Rosinski said it's possible Denny's trial won't take place until sometime next year as a result of the delay.

Crown prosecutor Darrell Martin said the length of the delay will depend on how quickly a new lawyer can be found who is willing and qualified to take the case.

"(Denny) has to find counsel that is willing to represent him," Martin said outside court. "That counsel then has to prepare for trial and be comfortable before setting a trial date down."

The case has been adjourned until Sept. 25.

Murray declined further comment as he left court.

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