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Postmedia asks judge to unseal documents in case of nurse accused of eight area care-home murders

By Jane Sims, The London Free Press

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer, a nurse accused in the murder of eight elderly patients in southern Ontario leaves the courthouse in Woodstock.
Geoff Robins / Getty Images

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer, a nurse accused in the murder of eight elderly patients in southern Ontario leaves the courthouse in Woodstock. Geoff Robins / Getty Images

WOODSTOCK  - 

Postmedia has asked the courts to unseal more of the search warrants in relation to the investigation of a former long-term-care nurse charged with eight counts of first-degree murder of elderly residents.

The request follows up a partial unsealing of court documents in January surrounding the case of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, 49, of Woodstock, who was charged last fall.

Wettlaufer, who worked as a nurse at several long-term care homes is charged with the deaths of seven patients at Caressant Care in Woodstock and one at Meadow Park nursing home in London.

Police have said they died after they were administered a drug. It’s believed to have been insulin.

She is also charged with four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault, involving four patients at Caressant Care, one in a Paris nursing home and another Oxford County resident.

On Monday, Brendan Hughes, media lawyer for the company, which includes The London Free Press, made the court application, arguing the sealing order is unnecessary to ensure the interests of a fair trial.

As of Nov. 2, 2016, 14 production orders and search warrants were sought and obtained in the Wettlaufer investigation.

One warrant that was ordered unsealed by Superior Court Justice Thomas Heeney in January was heavily redacted, with large parts blacked out.

The warrant, sought to seize Wettlaufer’s educational records, referred to Wettlaufer, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and her psychiatrist.

The two following paragraphs were blacked out, followed by information that the Toronto police contacted the Woodstock police about allegations.

Hughes argued the Crown hadn’t given strong enough reasons to keep the warrants sealed, and opening them up wouldn’t affect fair trial interests.

He pointed to the breadth of media coverage already across the province and stories sourced from Wettlaufer’s friends and acquaintances that gave information outside of what the police released.

Peter Scrutton of the Crown Law office said the warrants were sealed for good reasons and opening them would be a risk to Wettlaufer’s rights to a fair trial.

The case has already been heavily covered by the media and unsealing the warrants would cause another flood of coverage that would jeopardize the administration of justice, he argued.

Heeney reserved his decision to a future date.

jsims@postmedia.com

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