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Elizabeth Wettlaufer to make courtroom appearance

By Jane Sims, The London Free Press

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer. (File photo)

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer. (File photo)

Editor's note: Elizabeth Wettlaufer's Friday morning court appearance will be live-tweeted by court reporter Jane Sims. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for that live feed. Court begins at 10 a.m.

Former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer is about to make her second trip back to Woodstock since she was charged with multiple murders.

Wettlaufer, 49, is expected to be in a Woodstock courtroom Friday, transported in from Milton’s Vanier Centre for Women where she’s been housed since her arrest.

Friday’s court appearance could prove to be a turning point.

Though this could potentially become one of the biggest mass murder cases in the country’s history, it has been moving through the courts at a relatively speedy pace.

Wettlaufer was charged six months ago with the deaths of eight elderly long-term care patients, most from Caressant Care in Woodstock and one from Meadow Park Long-Term Care in London over a seven-year period. Their deaths were said to be by the administration of a drug, suspected now to be insulin, although the police haven’t confirmed it.

By the end of January, there were six more charges — four of attempted murder and two of aggravated assault — also involving long-term care patients.

A sealed search warrant has been opened by the court at the request of The Free Press, giving insights into the thoroughness of the police investigation and Wettlaufer’s activities before her arrest.

The picture painted was that of a mentally unstable addict with a poor job performance that included a firing from the Woodstock facility for medication infractions, including some with insulin.

Wettlaufer could be coming into Woodstock as an in-person formality to start the journey through the Superior Court. There was no indication at the last court appearance that her first visit to the higher level of court could be done by video.

Her defence lawyer, Brad Burgess, indicated at the last court appearance that she could be setting a trial date. Though uncommon, there have been situations when cases have bypassed the preliminary hearing stage for a trial, such as a recent London bank robbery case that involved five accused men.

The other possibility could ramp up the case even faster.

There are cases when preliminary hearings are waived to allow an accused to plead guilty.

Terri-Lynne McClintic, who would be 26 now, was 19 when she waived her preliminary hearing and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Victoria (Tori) Stafford.

Her guilty plea came 11 months after the little girl was killed in 2009.

There has been no indication that this will be the tactic in Wettlaufer’s case or what will happen Friday.

But given how unusual her case has been since the beginning, there could be another unexpected twist that can only happen when she is in the courtroom.

jsims@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JaneatLFPress