TORONTO – A man accused of killing eight men with ties to Toronto’s gay village could stand trial as early as next September, a judge said Monday as the alleged serial killer made his first appearance in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice.
Bruce McArthur, a self-employed landscaper who faces eight counts of first-degree murder, said nothing as Justice John McMahon laid out the anticipated timeline for the case.
A trial could begin either in September 2019 or in January 2020, said McMahon, who recently took over the case after McArthur, 67, waived his right to a preliminary hearing last month and proceedings moved from a lower court to the Superior Court.
“We can accommodate a trial in a relatively speedy time,” said the judge.
McArthur, wearing a black sweater over a blue shirt and blue jeans, nodded as the judge spoke to him during the brief hearing but did not speak. At one point he glanced at the courtroom where several family members of his alleged victims sat, but otherwise faced the judge.
McMahon walked McArthur through the early stages of the legal process at Superior Court.
The first step, McMahon said, is the judicial pre-trial, where McArthur’s lawyer will meet with the Crown attorney and the judge in private.
“We will talk about how long it will take, set timelines for any applications and discuss any possible resolution of the case,” McMahon said to McArthur.
The judicial pre-trial is scheduled for Nov. 30 and McArthur is scheduled to make a brief court appearance after it, court heard.
McMahon also asked lawyers questions about how the case has progressed so far, noting that a 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision had set limits on how long proceedings should take. The top court has said matters in Superior Court should not take longer than 30 months.
McArthur was arrested in January and stands accused of killing Majeed Kayhan, Selim Esen, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam. The men all went missing from Toronto’s gay village between 2010 and 2017.
The remains of seven of the alleged victims have been found in large planters at a property where McArthur worked as a landscaper. The remains of the eighth alleged victim were found in a ravine behind the same property in midtown Toronto.
Funerals for some of the alleged victims have taken place after police released some of the remains to their loved ones.