Pembroke — It was a busy week for Ontario Court of Justice Jeffery Richardson as he presided over some ongoing court cases involving two young men from the Eganville area. Both are charged with second-degree murder in relation to two separate homicides, and it appears one of those cases may reach a conclusion in early July.

On Monday (June 26), Zachary Marquardt, 28, appeared in the Ontario Court of Justice in Pembroke and the purpose of the hearing was to allow him the opportunity to enter a plea in relation to the July 9, 2021 death of 67-year old Ron Graham of Pikwakanagan First Nation.

At the time of the murder, the then 27-year old Mr. Marquardt was found nearby with non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to the Pembroke Regional Hospital. His identity was not released until four days later when he was formally charged in relation to Mr. Graham’s death.

He was originally charged with first-degree murder and failure to comply with a probation order, but the charge was later reduced to second-degree murder. Mr. Graham, a native of British Columbia who lived most recently in Eganville and Pikwakanagan, was found dead outside a residence that had been damaged by fire nine days earlier.

Justice Richardson adjourned the June 26 hearing and it was rescheduled for July 6. He postponed the hearing to ensure legal counsel has all relevant information prior to a plea being entered into the official record.  

When Mr. Marquardt returns to court next week, it will be three days short of the second anniversary of Mr. Graham’s death. If he enters a plea, Justice Richardson will confirm with both the Crown and Defence Counsel if there are any objections to the plea presented before the court. If no challenge is heard, he will set a date for sentencing.

By entering a plea, there will not be a court trial and Justice Richardson will proceed with the sentencing. In Canada, second-degree murder is defined as a homicide that is committed intentionally but is not premeditated or planned. Second-degree murder is punishable by life in prison with a possibility of parole after 10 years.

Trey Gagon Preliminary Hearing

Last week, Trey Gagnon, 18, appeared before Justice Richardson via Zoom for all parties involved to agree upon a schedule of required pre-trial meetings before a final court date can be set. He is being held at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre on a charge of second-degree murder in relation to the death of his mother, Lisa Sharpe in Eganville last January.

He was born and raised in Bonnechere Valley and was a resident of Laurentian Valley at the time of his mother’s death. When the news of her death spread through the community, it became apparent just how well-known Ms. Sharpe was in the community.

She was an early childhood educator for 25 years and touched the lives of many children, families and colleagues during her time at the Ketcha Star Daycare and her regular Wednesday shift as a receptionist at Dr. Kathleen Doran’s Chiropractic Office in Eganville.

Ontario Provincial Police officers responded to a 911 call at a residence on Maple Street in Eganville on January 25. When they arrived around 9 p.m., they discovered Ms. Sharpe’s body. He was taken into custody the following day around noon when OPP officers apprehended him on Highway 60, about three kms west of Eganville near the Hwy. 41 intersection.

A few weeks after his arrest, Pembroke resident Terry Sharpe, father of the deceased who retired from the OPP in the rank of Detective Sergeant, told the Leader his grandson was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a neurodevelopmental condition now considered part of the autism spectrum disorder. He said the young man had a history of interactions with the police and struggled at school.

He said his late daughter worked with him to help him in his struggles and they met with many psychiatrists and therapists without any success and often psychiatrists would diagnose him with something different.

His condition is likely the reason an order was made under Section 517(1) for a publication ban. The ban prohibits the sharing of any information that arises during the preliminary inquiry until the completion of the trial or if the accused is discharged.

He is represented by Pembroke lawyer Mark Huckabone, who is well known within the local legal community for representing clients facing serious charges involving violent deaths.

Justice Richardson agreed to reconvene on August 29 for the purpose of confirming preliminary hearing dates scheduled for October 17 and 31 with two more on December 1 and 2.